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Full text of "The works of Charles Dickens"

The Works of Charles Dickens 

In Thirty-four Volumes. 

WITH INTRODUCTIONS, GENERAL ESSAY, AND NOTES 
BY ANDREW LANG. 

VOL. XVIII. 



CHRISTMAS BOOKS. 



Printed from the Edition that teas carefully corrected by the Author 
in 1867 and 18G8. 



CHRISTMAS BOOKS 



By CHARLES DICKENS 



WITH INTRODUCTION 

BY 

ANDREW LANG 



In One Volume 

WITH THE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 
1899 



Annex 



INTRODUCTION. 



DICKEXS'S " Christmas Books " had their efficient cause in 
financial disappointment. It has been stated, in the Intro- 
duction to Martin Chuzzfaeit (184-3), that the novel fell 
far below the pecuniary success of the earlier works, and that 
the publishers talked of putting in force a certain clause in 
their agreement of 1841. By the action of that clause the 
author's profits would be considerably reduced. Dickens 
projected a residence abroad, in the interests of economy, 
and in October and November, 1843, he composed the 
Christmas Carol, a severe addition to his work on CJmzzle- 
n'it. His brain worked at unusually high pressure; "he 
wept, and laughed, and wept again, and excited himself in a 
most extraordinary manner "* so he says. The book, published 
just before Christmas, 1843, had a success which was then 
considered great, though far below what now falls to the lot 
of authors who, like Dickens, have really caught the popular 
fancy. Many sorts of books, it seems probable, were more 
freely purchased by our grandfathers than by ourselves, but 
the successful author of modern fiction would smile at the 
"thousands'" of the Christmas Carol. Only fifteen thousand 
copies were disposed of in the course of a year, at the price 
of five shillings. But, for the first six thousand, he received 

b 2 



\ 



INTRODUCTION. 



what he regarded as the disappointing reward of ^230. ** And 
the last four [thousand] will yield as much more. I had set 
my heart and soul upon a thousand, clear.'" Sir Walter Scott 
regarded twopence in the shilling as a fair ratio of an 
author's profits on a book. On this plan Dickens would 
have received 300, not <230, for 6000 copies of a five- 
shilling book. He finally got ^726 for 15,000, which comes 
pretty near to Scott's idea of what is right, but the wonderful 
result " of such a great success " was " intolerable anxiety 
and disappointment." " My year's bills, unpaid, are terrific." 
He had, it seems, spent money on the strength of expectations 
which were defeated by the sudden, and inexplicable, fall in 
his popularity. Mr. Forster thinks that " want of judgment 
had been shown in not adjusting the expenses of production 
with a more equable regard to the selling price.' 1 Coloured 
woodcuts by John Leech are expensive luxuries, and 
probably did not add, in due proportion, to the success of 
the work. Dickens changed his publishers, as has been 
already seen, and went abroad. 

If not financially, the book was indeed a success of appre- 
ciation. It founded " the Carol philosophy,"" and was warmly 
praised by Mr. Michael Angelo Titmarsh. "The last two 
people I heard speak of it were women," says Thackeray ; 
"neither knew the other, or the author, and both said, by 
way of criticism, 'God bless him! 1 "" The book was pirated, 
and Dickens suffered much, in the Court of Chancery, during 
his efforts to stop the robbers. He complains of " expense, 
anxiety, and horrible injustice."" 

The Carol was the first of five Christmas Books. The 
traditions of Christmas, the explosion of good will, the 
ancient survivals which give ghosts a kind of holiday at the 
winter solstice, were combined. The old-fashioned phenomena 



INTRODUCTION. vii 

of clanking chains, derived from classical superstition, might, 
at Christinas, be blamelessly revived. The result is an allegory. 
Mr. Scrooge vainly pleads the popular theory of the origin 
of hallucinations : " You may be an undigested bit of beef, a 
blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an under- 
done potato ;" but Marley's ghost is that rare phantasm, a 
ghost with a purpose and a moral : " The common welfare was 
my business ; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were 
all my business." Mr. Scrooge's eyes were opened to the 
invisible myriads of spectres of the unconsoled, and the result 
is his conversion to " Carol philosophy " Christianity illumi- 
nated by the flames of punch. He beholds the Christmas of 
his boyhood, before he was a maker of money for the mere 
love of the game. He sees the end predestined for a man 
who has lived his life. Above all, he sees the Christinas of 
the clerk whom he bullies, and underpays, and knows nothing 
of; and his heart is wrung, like Thackeray's, by Tiny Tim, 
who is to die. In vain Mr. Scrooge talks of " decreasing the 
surplus population ; " and now " Carol philosophy" dashes itself 
against the iron laws of the universe. It is not inconceivable 
that earth may come to hold more people than it can support, 
though it is probable that these laws will never allow this 
destitution to become an actual fact. But the processes by 
which it will be prevented are inconsistent with aught but 
wide-sweeping misery, famine, plague, revolution, and war. 
For this wretchedness " Carol philosophy " may offer a sympa- 
thetic palliative, but not a cure. The past and the future 
show black, and merriment is not the end of the great 
humorist's Christmas stories. You cannot escape the 
realities of things by " loving your love with all the letters 
of the alphabet." However, Scrooge, personally, was a better 
and happier man for his visions, and made other people 



viii INTRODUCTION. 

happier. The universal practice of " Carol philosophy " has 
never yet been tried, and is not likely to be put into such 
a form as will solve the riddle of the painful earth. The 
minute inquirer will ask whether "Carol philosophy"" had not 
something to do with the " terrific " nature of Dickens's Christ- 
mas bills. As literature, the sketches of jovial life, and of 
the miserable end of the selfish man, and his robbed death- 
bed, are brilliant and effective. 

The Chimes was written in Genoa, and the title was 
suggested by a burst of the bells in that isle wnnante. The 
Christmas story was a social manifesto. Dickens wrote " in 
a regular ferocious excitement," " wrathful and red-hot," and 
"fierce to finish in a spirit bearing some affinity to those 
of truth and mercy. 11 Ferocity of mercy is, indeed, a common 
result of meditation on poverty and oppression. A sketch 
of the tale was sent to Mr. Forster. The parts of Fern and 
Lilian do not occur in the first draught. " The book has 
made my face white in a foreign land," he says, so heartfelt was 
his protest against the idea of a surplus population, and the 
notion that the poor have no business to live. Apparently 
it is the rich who have no business to live. The egregious Sir 
Peter Laurie, who meant to " put down " everything, including 
" all sick persons and young children," appears in Alderman 
Cute. The friend of " the good old times " is the Young 
England Party, probably. The scene with the tripe carica- 
tured, of course represents the abstract science of Political 
Economy in concrete action. If we ask Dickens what remedy 
he proposes, we get no more answer than from Mr. Carlyle. 
A better and more humane spirit is recommended that is 
all. The infinite grievances are forcibly presented, but the 
speculative imagination looks in vain for a system which 
will introduce peace, plenty, and universal good will among 



INTRODUCTION. ix 

immense industrial populations. This is not joyful matter 
for Christmas, and is not to be made roseate by vague 
optimism. 

The book was finished on November 3, 1844, the author 
ending, he says, with " a good cry/' Dickens came to 
London in the end of the month, and read his story in 
Mr. Forsters rooms, to several friends, including Carlyle. 
The sales of the book were twice as great as those of the 
Carol But Mr. Charles Dickens thinks that possibly " for 
the general public the powder was found to bear a rather 
undue proportion to the jam, and they did not altogether 
care about having so intensely earnest and serious a protest 
presented to them in such a form. 11 This is, indeed, the 
normal objection to novels with a purpose novels on topics 
which, to some minds, seem to demand the most impartial 
handling. But it was for such work that Dickens " hoped 
to be longest remembered," 11 says Mr. Forster. " So may each 
year be happier than the last, and not the meanest of our 
brethren or sisterhood debarred their rightful share in what 
our great Creator formed them to enjoy. 11 It is the old 
Aristotelian crux of " distributive justice. 11 

The Cricket on the Hearth was originally intended for the 
title of a serial, something in the nature of Household Words, 
a plan long caressed by Dickens. He meant to chirp away 
"until I chirped it up to well, you 11 Mr. Forster "shall 
say how many hundred thousand. 11 But the foundation of 
the Dally News interfered with this plan, and, in summer, 
1845, Dickens determined to use the title for a Christmas 
book. It is curious to contrast his Christmas Books with 
Thackeray's The Rose and the Ring, and Dr. Birch, and The 
Kkkleburys. These are not stories with a purpose, though 
not devoid of satire on Thackeray's favourite themes. The 



x INTRODUCTION. 

Cricket was, what it was styled, " a fairy tale of home, M and 
was written without the storm and stress of its predecessors. 
Than these the Cricket was more popular, which is difficult 
to explain. The plot lacks probability ; the pathos of the 
blind doll-dresser perhaps reconciled the general taste to 
this, and to the exalted language of the characters. The 
piece has been dramatised several times, and is better adapted 
to the stage than to the study. Tilly Slowboy is almost the 
only character in the fantasy who recalls Dickens at his best, 
for the " fairies " are not more successful than modern fairies 
in general, and the humour of animating the kettle, and, in 
fact, of all the introductory matter, has ceased to please, 
being worn threadbare by imitators. The doll's dressmaker 
has been credited with suggesting Desiree, in M. Daudet's 
Fromont Jeune et Risler Aim, though the resemblance may 
be a mere coincidence. ( 

The Battle of Life, as has been already said, was begun 
in the stress of writing Dombey (July, 1846). Dickens was 
"a little used up," and sick. At the end of September, 
in Genoa, the state of his health, and the double labour 
of two books, made Dickens think of abandoning the Christ- 
mas tale. He finished it, however, while complaining of 
limitations of space. Leech, who illustrated the story, was 
confused as to the plot, and introduced Michael Warden 
where he had no business to be, in the scene of the elope- 
ment. Though this " made havoc of one of the most delicate 
scenes, 11 Mr. Forster says that nobody noticed it. Dickens 
did not interfere, at the last moment, out of consideration 
for Leech. 

The author suffered from insomnia, while driving the long 
and the short story together from the first a feat which he 
had never attempted before. " I dreamed all last night that 



INTRODUCTION. xi 

The Buttle of Life was a series of chambers impossible to get 
to rights or get out of."" Mr. James Payn remarks that 
he never knew a novelist who dreamed of his characters ; but 
Dickens appears to have been an exception to a rule which, 
if really general, is a curious fact in psychology. Some 
novelists, like Mr. Stevenson, have owed their characters to 
their dreams. Criticism must remember the physical condition 
of the author, overworked and not in a congenial environ- 
ment, when it estimates both Dombey and The Battle of Life. 
The excessively complex solution of the sisters'" problem does 
not secure our belief, and could only be made plausible by 
devoting to their characters, and to that of the useful aunt, 
the space bestowed on the unessential humours of Dr. 
Jeddler, and of Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs and their wives. 
Clemency is a repetition of the Peggotty motive, and, in 
vulgar modern phrase, the story might by some be called a not 
very successful "pot-boiler." To discuss that opinion would 
be to plunge deep in the ethics of literary production. 
Dickens, we may say, was not consumed by a desire to tell 
the story of the self-sacrificing sisters. None of the characters 
had acquired possession of his genius, and haunted him till 
he gave them literary existence. The remote date, in the last 
century, was chosen merely for the costume, and there is not 
a shadow of an effort to reproduce the tone and manners of 
1740, or whatever the date may be. The book was written 
merely because Dickens wanted to make more money. So 
far it was a genuine " pot-boiler." Yet he threw himself into 
it with a will. " I know that by what it cost me," he says ; 
and he asked Mr. Forster to keep an eye on his involuntary 
blank verse "I cannot help it when I am very much in 
earnest." 

It has been already remarked that Dickens's unconscious 



xii INTRODUCTION. 

blank verse is probably a token of intellectual fatigue. The 
whole subject of unconscious blank verse is curious, and a 
study of it might reward an inquirer. I have not observed 
it in Scott, nor in Thackeray, who writes it printed as prose, 
for amusement merely. But one should examine several 
authors carefully in search of this automatic form of poetical 
expression. I have noticed it in the work of excited lady 
novelists, and an American translation of the Odyssey 
nominally in prose, is largely in blank verse. Observing this, 
I examined a prose version of the Odyssey in which I had a 
hand, and found more blank verse than I liked, or expected. 
However, this is probably natural in translating poetry. We 
may attribute Dickens's "dropping into poetry" to earnest- 
ness or to fatigue, or to both. He was, at all events, sensible 
of his tendency. His earnestness, which was unfeigned, 
relieves him from much of the reproach conveyed in the 
undignified term which has been cited. But he was working 
against time, and invlta Minerva. In letters to Bulwer 
Lytton, who admired the piece, he recognised his need of 
more space, and more time, if he was to do justice to his 
conception. That conception is somewhat " stagey," and the 
story has been adapted for the stage both in France and 
England. 

"The very ghostly and wild idea" of The Haunted 
Man occurred to Dickens in 1846, dimly conceived ; but 
the book, postponed in 1847, was composed in 1848. 
Dombey interfered, and 1847 was without a Christmas book. 
The idea of The Haunted Man is one that might have 
occurred to Hawthorne, but even he could scarcely have made 
it plausible in the exposition. Dickens does not seem to 
have rated Hawthorne high. "The psychological part of 
the Scarlet Letter is very much overdone," he says; and 



INTRODUCTION. xiii 

Hawthorne might have replied that the psychological part 
of The Haunted Man is very much underdone. "The child 
out of nature altogether, 111 Dickens says of Pearl, that 
charmed fantasy. But the Haunted one is " out of nature " 
also. Fantasy is a perilous field, and psychology was not 
i\\e forte of Dickens. To lose our memories of wrong done 
to us would not, it may be argued, destroy sympathy with 
grief ; and Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby, under the ghostly influence, 
do not lose memory of wrong, but suddenly become conscious 
of it, even where it did not really exist. Thus the allegory 
fails, but the virtues and humours of the Tetterbys remain 
eternally delightful. For all his moral Christmas ghosts, and 
his interest in the ghostly, Dickens never, I think, wrote a 
good ghost story an naturcl He brought in the fantastically 
grotesque : he had not the success in this province, because he 
had not the seriousness, of De Foe, Scott, and Bulwer Lytton. 
He could not but bow to the philosophy of Scrooge and indi- 
gestion. The Haunted Man was his last Christmas book ; in 
his Christmas numbers he was aided by other hands. 

ANDREW LANG. 



PREFACE. 



THE narrow space within which it was necessary to confine 
these Christmas Stories when they were originally published, 
rendered their construction a matter of some difficulty, and 
almost necessitated what is peculiar in their machinery. I 
could not attempt great elaboration of detail, in the working 
out of character within such limits. My chief purpose was, 
in a whimsical kind of masque which the good humour of 
the season justified, to awaken some loving and forbearing 
thoughts, never out of season in a Christian land. 



CONTENTS, 



FACE 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL 1 

THE CHIMES 99 

THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 201 

THE BATTLE OF LIFE 307 

THE HAUNTED MAN . 411 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL, 

IN PROSE. 

BEING 

& (Sfjost sbtovji of (Eiw'stmas. 



PREFACE. 



I HAVE endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the 
Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of 
humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, 
or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no 
one wish to lay it. 

Their faithful Friend and Servant, 

C. D. 

December, 1843. 



CONTENTS. 



STAVE I. 
Marley's Ghost 



STAVE II. 
The First of the Three Spirits 30 

STAVE III. 

The Second of the Three Spirits 49 

STAVE IV. 
The Last of the Spirits 74 

STAVE V. 

The End of it 91 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



ArlM. PAOK 

MR. FEZZIWIG'S BALL . . . . J. LEECH Frontispiece 

MARLEY'S GHOST , 2 ^ 

GHOSTS OF DEPARTED USURERS . . ,, .28 

SCROOGE EXTINGUISHES THE FIRST 1 ^ 

OF THE THREE SPIRITS . . ) 

SCROOGE'S THIRD VISITOR . 

IGNORANCE AND WANT. . . . ,, -78 

THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS . . . .88 

SCROOGE AND BOB CRATCHIT ....... 98 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



MAULEYS GHOST. 

MARLEY was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt 
whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed 
by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief 
mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was 
good upon ""Change, for anything he chose to put his 
hand to. 

Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. 

Mind ! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own 
knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. 
I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail 
as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the 
wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile ; and my unhallowed 
hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You 
will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley 
was as dead as a door-nail. 

Scrooge knew he was dead ? Of course he did. How could 
it be otherwise ? Scrooge and he were partners for I don't 
know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his 
sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, 
his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not 
so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an 



10 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and 
solemnised it with an undoubted bargain. 

The mention of Marley's funeral brings me back to the 
point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was 
dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing- 
wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If 
we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died 
before the play began, there would be nothing more remark- 
able in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, 
upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other 
middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a 
breezy spot say Saint Paul's Churchyard for instance 
literally to astonish his son's weak mind. 

Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name. There it 
stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge 
and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. 
Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, 
and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It 
was all the same to him. 

Oh ! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, 
Scrooge ! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, 
covetous, old sinner ! Hard and sharp as flint, from which 
no steel had ever struck out generous fire ; secret, and self- 
contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him 
froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his 
cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue ; 
and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime 
was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. 
He earned his own low temperature always about with him ; 
he iced his office in the dog-days ; and didn't thaw it one 
degree at Christmas. 

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. 
No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No 
wind that blew Avas bitterer than he, no falling snow was more 
intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. 
Foul weather didn't know where to have him. The heaviest 



CHRISTMAS EVE. 11 

rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the 
advantage over him in only one respect. They often "came 
down " handsomely, and Scrooge never did. 

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with glad- 
some looks, " My dear Scrooge, how are you ? When will you 
come to see me?" No beggars implored him to bestow a 
trifle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man 
or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such 
and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs 
appeared to know him ; and when they saw him coming on, 
would tug their owners into doorways and up courts ; and 
then would wag their tails as though they said, "No eye at 
all is better than an evil eye, dark master I" 11 

But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he 
liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, 
warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what 
the knowing ones call "nuts" to Scrooge. 

Once upon a time of all the good days in the year, on 
Christmas Eve old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. 
It was cold, bleak, biting weather : foggy withal : and he 
could hear the people in the court outside, go wheezing up 
and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and 
stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. 
The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite 
dark already it had not been light all day and candles 
were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices, like 
ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came 
pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense 
without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the 
houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud 
come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have 
thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a 
large scale. 

The door of Scrooge"^ counting-house was open that he 
might keep his eye upon his clerk, whd in a dismal little cell 
beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters. Scrooge had a 



12 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

very small fire, but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller 
that it looked like one coal. But he couldn't replenish it, 
for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room ; and so surely 
as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted 
that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the 
clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself 
at the candle ; in which effort, not being a man of a strong 
imagination, he failed. 

" A merry Christmas, uncle ! God save you ! " cried a 
cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who 
came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation 
he had of his approach. 

"Bah ! " said Scrooge, " Humbug ! " 

He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog 
and frost, this nephew of Scrooge's, that he was all in a glow ; 
his face was ruddy and handsome ; his eyes sparkled, and his 
breath smoked again. 

" Christmas a humbug, uncle ! " said Scrooge's nephew. 
"You don't mean that, I am sure?" 

" I do," said Scrooge. " Merry Christmas ! What right 
have you to be merry ? What reason have you to be merry ? 
You're poor enough.'" 

" Come, then," returned the nephew gaily. " What right 
have you to be dismal ? What reason have you to be morose ? 
You're rich enough." 

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the 
moment, said, "Bah!" again; and followed it up with 
" Humbug." 

" Don't be cross, uncle ! " said the nephew. 

"What else can I be," returned the uncle, "when I live 
in such a world of fools as this ? Merry Christmas ! Out 
upon merry Christmas ! What's Christmas time to you but 
a time for paying bills without money ; a time for finding 
yourself a year older, but not an hour richer ; a time for 
balancing your books and having every item in 'em through 
a round dozen of months presented dead against you ? If I 



OUT UPON MERRY CHRISTMAS! 13 

could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly, "every idiot 
who goes about with ' Merry Christmas ' on his lips, should 
be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake 
of holly through his heart. He should ! " 

" Uncle ! " pleaded the nephew. 

" Nephew ! " returned the uncle, sternly, " keep Christmas 
in your own way, and let me keep it in mine." 

" Keep it ! " repeated Scrooge's nephew. " But you don't 
keep it." 

" Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge. " Much good 
may it do you ! Much good it has ever done you ! " 

"There are many things from which I might have derived 
good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the 
nephew. " Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have 
always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round 
apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and 
origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that 
as a good time ; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time ; 
the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, 
when men and women seem by one consent to open their 
shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as 
if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not 
another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And 
therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or 
silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and 
will do me good ; and I say, God bless it ! " 

The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded. Becoming 
immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, 
and extinguished the last frail spark for ever. 

" Let me hear another sound from you said Scrooge, 
" and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation ! 
You're quite a powerful speaker, sir," he added, turning to 
his nephew. " I wonder you don't go into Parliament." 

" Don't be angry, uncle. Come ! Dine with us to- 
morrow." 

Scrooge said that he would see him yes, indeed he did. 



14 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

He went the whole length of the expression, and said that he 
would see him in that extremity first. 

" But why ?" cried Scrooge's nephew. " Why ?" 

" Why did you get married ? " said Scrooge. 

"Because I fell in love." 

"Because you fell in love!' 1 growled Scrooge, as if that 
were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous than a 
merry Christmas. " Good afternoon ! " 

" Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before that 
happened. Why give it as a reason for not coming now ? " 

" Good afternoon," said Scrooge. 

" I want nothing from you ; I ask nothing of you ; why 
cannot we be friends ? n 

" Good afternoon," said Scrooge. 

"I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. 
We have never had any quarrel, to which I have been a 
party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, 
and Til keep my Christmas humour to the last. So A Merry 
Christmas, uncle ! " 

" Good afternoon ! " said Scrooge. 

" And A Happy New Year ! " 

" Good afternoon ! " said Scrooge. 

His nephew left the room without an angry word, notwith- 
standing. He stopped at the outer door to bestow the 
greetings of the season on the clerk, who, cold as he was, 
was warmer than Scrooge ; for he returned them cordially. 

" There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge ; who overheard 
him : " my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife 
and family, talking about a merry Christmas. Fll retire to 
Bedlam. 1 ' 

This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two 
other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to 
behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge's office. 
They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to 
him. 

" Scrooge and Marley's, I believe," said one of the gentlemen, 



SCROOGKS LIBERALITY. 15 

referring to his list. "Have I the pleasure of addressing 
Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?" 

"Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years," Scrooge 
replied. " He died seven years ago, this very night." 

"We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by 
his surviving partner," said the gentleman, presenting his 
credentials. 

It certainly was ; for they had been two kindred spirits. 
At the ominous word "liberality," Scrooge frowned, and 
shook his head, and handed the credentials back. 

" At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the 
gentleman, taking up a pen, " it is more than usually desir- 
able that we should make some slight provision for the Poor 
and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many 
thousands are in want of common necessaries ; hundreds of 
thousands are in want of common comforts, sir." 

" Are there no prisons ? " asked Scrooge. 

"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the 
pen again. 

" And the Union workhouses '? " demanded Scrooge. " Are 
they still in operation?" 

" They are. Still," returned the gentleman, " I wish I 
could say they were not." 

"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, 
then ? " said Scrooge. 

" Both very busy, sir." 

" Oh ! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that 
something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," 
said Scrooge. " I'm very glad to hear it." 

" Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian 
cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the 
gentleman, " a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to 
buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. 
We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when 
Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I 
put you down for ? " 



16 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

" Nothing ! " Scrooge replied. 

" You wish to be anonymous ? " 

" I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. " Since you ask 
me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make 
merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle 
people merry. I help to support the establishments I have 
mentioned they cost enough; and those who are badly off 
must go there." 

" Many can't go there ; and many would rather die." 

" If they would rather die,"" said Scrooge, " they had better 
do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides excuse 
me I don't know that." 

" But you might know it," observed the gentleman. 

"It's not my business," Scrooge returned. "It's enough 
for a man to understand his own business, and not to inter- 
fere with other people's. Mine occupies me constantly. 
Good afternoon, gentlemen ! " 

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, 
the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an 
improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper 
than was usual with him. 

Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that people 
ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go 
before horses in carriages, and conduct them on their way. 
The ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was 
always peeping slily down at Scrooge out of a gothic window 
in the wall, became invisible, and struck the hours and 
quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards 
as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. 
The cold became intense. In the main street, at the comer 
of the court, some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes, 
and had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a party 
of ragged men and boys were gathered : warming their hands 
and winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture. The 
water-plug being left in solitude, its overflowings sullenly 
congealed, and turned to misanthropic ice. The brightness 



GOD BLESS YOU, MERRY GENTLEMAN! 17 

of the shops where holly sprigs and berries crackled in the 
lamp heat of the windows, made pale faces ruddy as they 
passed. Poulterers' and grocers'* trades became a splendid 
joke : a glorious pageant, with which it was next to impossible 
to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale had 
anything to do. The Lord Mayor, in the stronghold of the 
mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his fifty cooks and 
butlers to keep Christinas as a Lord Mayor's household 
should ; and even the little tailor, whom he had fined five 
shillings on the previous Monday for being drunk and blood- 
thirsty in the streets, stirred up to-morrow's pudding in his 
garret, while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy 
the beef. 

Foggier yet, and colder. Piercing, searching, biting cold. 
If the good Saint Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit's 
nose with a touch of such weather as that, instead of using 
his familiar weapons, then indeed he would have roared to 
lusty purpose. The owner of one scant young nose, gnawed 
and mumbled by the hungry cold as bones are gnawed by 
dogs, stooped down at Scrooge's keyhole to regale him with 
a Christmas carol : but at the first sound of 

" God bless you, merry gentleman ! 
May nothing you dismay ! " 

Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the 
singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even 
more congenial frost. 

At length the hour of shutting up the counting-house 
arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted from his stool, 
and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk in 
the Tank, who instantly snuffed his candle out, and put on 
his hat. 

" You'll want all day to-morrow, I suppose ? " said Scrooge. 

" If quite convenient, sir." 

"It's not convenient," said Scrooge, "and it's not fair. 
If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you'd think yourself 
ill-used, I'll be bound ? " 

c 



18 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

The clerk smiled faintly. 

"And yet," said Scrooge, "you don't think 'me ill-used, 
when I pay a day's wages for no work." 

The clerk observed that it was only once a year. 

"A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty- 
fifth of December ! " said Scrooge, buttoning his greatcoat 
to the chin. " But I suppose you must have the whole day. 
Be here all the earlier next morning." 

The clerk promised that he would ; and Scrooge walked 
out with a growl. The office was closed in a twinkling, and 
the clerk, with the long ends of his white comforter dangling 
below his waist (for he boasted no great-coat), went down a 
slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, 
in honour of its being Christmas Eve, and then ran home to 
Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at blind- 
man's-buff. 

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy 
tavern ; and having read all the newspapers, and beguiled the 
rest of the evening with his bankers-book, went home to 
bed. He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his 
deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a 
lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little 
business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must 
have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide- 
and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again. 
It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived 
in it but Scrooge, the other rooms being all let out as offices. 
The yard was so dark that even Scrooge, who knew its every 
stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The fog and frost 
so hung about the black old gateway of the house, that it 
seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful 
meditation on the threshold. 

Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular 
about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large. 
It is also a fact, that Scrooge had seen it, night and morning, 
during his whole residence in that place; also that Scrooge 



MAULEY'S FACE. 19 

had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man 
in the city of London, even including which is a bold word 
the corporation, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be borne 
in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on 
Marlev, since his last mention of his seven-years' 1 dead partner 
that afternoon. And then let any man explain to me, if he 
can, how it happened that Scrooge, having his key in the 
lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing 
any intermediate process of change not a knocker, but 
Marley's face. 

Mai-ley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the 
other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about 
it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or 
ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look : 
with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. 
The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air; 
and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly 
motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible ; but 
its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its 
control, rather than a part of its own expression. 

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a 
knocker again. 

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was 
not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a 
stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But he put his 
hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, 
walked in, and lighted his candle. 

He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before he shut 
the door; and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he 
half expected to be terrified with the sight of Marley's pigtail 
sticking out into the hall. But there was nothing on the 
back of the door, except the screws and nuts that held the 
knocker on, so he said "Pooh, pooh!" and closed it with a 
bang. 

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. 
Every room above, and every cask in the wine-merchant's 



20 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

cellars below, appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of 
its own. Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by echoes. 
He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, and up the 
stairs ; slowly too : trimming his candle as he went. 

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up 
a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young Act of 
Parliament ; but I mean to say you might have got a hearse 
up that staircase, and taken it broadwise, with the splinter-bar 
towards the wall and the door towards the balustrades : and 
done it easy. There was plenty of width for that, and room 
to spare; which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought 
he saw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom. 
Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn't have 
lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it was 
pretty dark with Scrooge's dip. 

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that. Darkness 
is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. But before he shut his heavy 
door, he walked through his rooms to see that all was right. 
He had just enough recollection of the face to desire to do 
that. 

Sitting-room, bed-room, lumber-room. All as they should 
be. Nobody under the table, nobody under the sofa ; a small 
fire in the grate ; spoon and basin ready ; and the little sauce- 
pan of gruel (Scrooge had a cold in his head) upon the hob. 
Nobody under the bed ; nobody in the closet ; nobody in his 
dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude 
against the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire-guard, 
old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing-stand on three legs, and 
a poker. 

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in ; 
double-locked himself in, which was not his custom. Thus 
secured against surprise, he took off his cravat ; put on his 
dressing-gown and slippers, and his nightcap ; and sat down 
before the fire to take his gruel. 

It was a very low fire indeed; nothing on such a bitter 
night. He was obliged to sit close to it, and brood over it, 



STRANGE NOISES. 21 

before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from 
such a handful of fuel. The fireplace was an old one, built 
by some Dutch merchant long ago, and paved all round with 
quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures. 
There were Cains and Abels, Pharaoh's daughters, Queens of 
Sheba, Angelic messengers descending through the air on 
clouds like feather-beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles 
putting oft' to sea in butter-boats, hundreds of figures to 
attract his thoughts ; and yet that face of Marley, seven 
years dead, came like the ancient Prophet's rod, and swallowed 
up the whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank at first, 
with power to shape some picture on its surface from the 
disjointed fragments of his thoughts, there would have been 
a copy of old Marley 's head on every one. 

" Humbug ! " said Scrooge ; and walked across the room. 

After several turns, he sat down again. As he threw his 
head back in the chair, his glance happened to rest upon a 
bell, a disused bell, that hung in the room, and communicated 
for some purpose now forgotten with a chamber in the 
highest story of the building. It was with great astonish- 
ment, and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that as he 
looked, he saw this bell begin to swing. It swung so softly 
in the outset that it scarcely made a sound ; but soon it rang 
out loudly, and so did every bell in the house. 

This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, but 
it seemed an hour. The bells ceased as they had begun, 
together. They were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep 
down below ; as if some person were dragging a heavy chain 
over the casks in the wine-merchant's cellar. Scrooge then 
remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses 
were described as dragging chains. 

The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then 
he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below ; then 
coming up the stairs ; then coming straight towards his door. 

" It's humbug still ! " said Scrooge. " I won't believe it." 

His colour changed though, when, without a pause, it came 



22 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

on through the heavy door, and passed into the room before 
his eyes. Upon its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as 
though it cried, "I know him; Marley's Ghost!" and fell 
again. 

The same face : the very same. Marley in his pigtail, 
usual waistcoat, tights and boots; the tassels on the latter 
bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair 
upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his 
middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail ; and 
it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, 
keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in 
steel. His body was transparent; so that Scrooge, observing 
him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two 
buttons on his coat behind. 

Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no bowels, 
but he had never believed it until now. 

No, nor did he believe it even now. Though he looked 
the phantom through and through, and saw it standing 
before him ; though he felt the chilling influence of its 
death-cold eyes; and marked the very texture of the folded 
kerchief bound about its head and chin, which wrapper he 
had not observed before ; he was still incredulous, and fought 
against his senses. 

" How now ! " said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. 
" What do you want with me ? " 

" Much ! " Marley 's voice, no doubt about it. 
" Who are you ? " 
" Ask me who I was" 

"Who were you then?" said Scrooge, raising his voice. 
"You're particular, for a shade." He was going to say " to 
a shade," but substituted this, as more appropriate. 
" In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley." 
"Can you can you sit down?" asked Scrooge, looking 
doubtfully at him. 
" I can." 
"Doit, then." 



THE GHOST. 23 

Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't know whether 
a ghost so transparent might find himself in a condition to 
take a chair ; and felt that in the event of its being impossible, 
it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing explanation. 
But the ghost sat down on the opposite side of the fireplace, 
as if he were quite used to it. 

" You don't believe in me,"" 1 observed the Ghost. 

" I don't,"" said Scrooge. 

" What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that 
of your senses ? " 

" I don't know," said Scrooge. 

" Why do you doubt your senses ? " 

"Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing affects them. A 
slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may 
be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of 
cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of 
gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are ! " 

Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor 
did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. The 
truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting 
his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the 
spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones. 

To sit, staring at those fixed glazed eyes, in silence for a 
moment, would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce with him. 
There was something very awful, too, in the spectre's being 
provided with an infernal atmosphere of its own. Scrooge 
could not feel it himself, but this was clearly the case ; for 
though the Ghost sat perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts, 
and tassels, were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an 
oven. 

" You see this toothpick ? " said Scrooge, returning quickly 
to the charge, for the reason just assigned ; and wishing, 
though it were only for a second, to divert the vision's stony 
gaze from himself. 

" I do," replied the Ghost. 

"You are not looking at it," said ' Scrooge. 



24 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

" But I see it," said the Ghost, " notwithstanding."" 

"Well!"" returned Scrooge, "I have but to swallow this, 
and be for the rest of my days persecuted by a legion of 
goblins, all of my own creation. Humbug, I tell you ! 
humbug ! " 

At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain 
with such a dismal and appalling noise, that Scrooge held on 
tight to his chair, to save himself from falling in a swoon. 
But how much greater was his horror, when the phantom 
taking off the bandage round its head, as if it were too warm 
to wear in-doors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast ! 

Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before 
his face. 

" Mercy ! " he said. " Dreadful apparition, why do you 
trouble me ? " 

" Man of the worldly mind ! " replied the Ghost, " do you 
believe in me or not ? " 

" I do," said Scrooge. " I must. But why do spirits walk 
the earth, and why do they come to me ? " 

" It is required of every man," the Ghost returned, " that 
the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow- 
men, and travel far and wide ; and if that spirit goes not 
forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is 
doomed to wander through the world oh, woe is me ! and 
witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, 
and turned to happiness ! " 

Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain and 
wrung its shadowy hands. 

" You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. " Tell me 
why?" 

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. 
" I made it link by link, and yard by yard ; I girded it on 
of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is 
its pattern strange to you?" 

Scrooge trembled more and more. 

" Or would you know," pursued the Ghost, " the weight 



A PONDEROUS CHAIN! 25 

and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full 
as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You 
have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain ! " 

Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation 
of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms 
of iron cable : but he could see nothing. 

" Jacob," he said, imploringly. " Old Jacob Marley, tell 
me more. Speak comfort to me, Jacob ! " 

" I have none to give,"" the Ghost replied. " It comes from 
other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other 
ministers, to other kinds of men. Nor can I tell you what 
I would. A very little more is all permitted to me. I 
cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere. My 
spirit never walked beyond our counting-house mark me ! 
in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our 
money-changing hole ; and weary journeys lie before me ! " 

It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he became thought- 
ful, to put his hands in his breeches pockets. Pondering on 
what the Ghost had said, he did so now, but without lifting 
up his eyes, or getting off his knees. 

" You must have been very slow about it, Jacob,"" Scrooge 
observed, in a business-like manner, though with humility 
and deference. 

"Slow!" the Ghost repeated. 

" Seven years dead," mused Scrooge. " And travelling all 
the time ! " 

"The whole time," said the Ghost. "No rest, no peace. 
Incessant torture of remorse." 

" You travel fast ? " said Scrooge. 

" On the wings of the wind," replied the Ghost. 

" You might have got over a great quantity of ground in 
seven years," said Scrooge. 

The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked 
its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that 
the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a 



26 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

"Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed, 11 cried the 
phantom, " not to know, that ages of incessant labour by 
immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity 
before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. 
Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its 
little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too 
short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no 
space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity 
misused ! Yet such was I ! Oh ! such was I ! " 

" But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," 
faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself. 

" Business ! " cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. 
" Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my 
business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, 
all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop 
of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business ! " 

It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the 
cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the 
ground again. 

"At this time of the rolling year,"" the spectre said, " I 
suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow- 
beings Avith my eyes turned down, and never raise them to 
that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode ! 
Were there no poor homes to which its light would have 
conducted me!" 

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going 
on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly. 

" Hear me ! " cried the Ghost. " My time is nearly 
gone." 

"I will," said Scrooge. "But don't be hard upon me! 
Don't be flowery, Jacob ! Pray ! " 

" How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you 
can see, I may not tell. I have sat invisible beside you many 
and many a day." 

It was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shivered, and wiped 
the perspiration from his brow. 



THE GHOSTS DEPARTURE. 27 

" That is no light part of my penance,' 1 pursued the Ghost. 
" I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance 
and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my 
procuring, Ebenezer." 

"You were always a good friend to me," said Scrooge. 
"Thankee!" 

"You will be haunted," resumed the Ghost, "by Three 
Spirits." 

Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's 
had done. 

" Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob ? " 
he demanded, in a faltering voice. 

" It is." 

" I I think rd rather not," said Scrooge. 

" Without their visits," said the Ghost, " you cannot hope 
to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow, when 
the bell tolls One." 

" Couldn't I take 'em all at once, and have it over, Jacob ? " 
hinted Scrooge. 

"Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. 
The third upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve 
has -ceased to vibrate. Look to see me no more ; and look 
that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed 
between us ! " 

When it had said these words, the spectre took its wrapper 
from the table, and bound it round its head, as before. 
Scrooge knew this, by the smart sound its teeth made, when 
the jaws were brought together by the bandage. He ventured 
to raise his eyes again, and found his supernatural visitor 
confronting him in an erect attitude, with its chain wound 
over and about its arm. 

The apparition walked backward from him ; and at every 
step it took, the window raised itself a little, so that when 
the spectre reached it, it was wide open. 

It beckoned Scrooge to approach, which he did. When 
they were within two paces of each other, Marley's Ghost 



28 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

held up its hand, warning him to come no nearer. Scrooge 
stopped. 

Not so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear : for 
on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of confused 
noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation and 

regret ; wailings inex- 
pressibly sorrowful and 
self - accusatory. The 
spectre, after listening 
for a moment, joined 
in the mournful dirge; 
and floated out upon 
the bleak, dark night. 

Scrooge followed to 
the window: desperate 
in his curiosity. He 
looked out. 

The air was filled 
with phantoms, wander- 
ing hither and thither 
in restless haste, and 
moaning as they went. 
Every one of them 
wore chains like 
Marley's Ghost ; 
some few (they 
might be guilty 
governments) were 
linked together ; 
none were free. 

Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. 
He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white 
waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, 
who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched 
woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door- 
step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they 




SCROOGE FALLS ASLEEP. 29 

sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had 
lost the power for ever. 

Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist enshrouded 
them, he could not tell. But they and their spirit voices 
faded together; and the night became as it had been when 
he walked home. 

Scrooge closed the window, and examined the door by 
which the Ghost had entered. It was double-locked, as he 
had locked it with his own hands, and the bolts were undis- 
turbed. He tried to say " Humbug ! " but stopped at the 
first syllable. And being, from the emotion he had under- 
gone, or the fatigues of the day, or his glimpse of the Invisible 
World, or the dull conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness 
of the hour, much in need of repose ; went straight to bed, 
without undressing, and fell asleep upon the instant. 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS. 

WHEX Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that looking out of bed, 
he could scarcely distinguish the transparent window from 
the opaque walls of his chamber. He was endeavouring to 
pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes, when the chimes of a 
neighbouring church struck the four quarters. So he listened 
for the hour. 

To his great astonishment the heavy bell went on from 
six to seven, and from seven to eight, and regularly up to 
twelve ; then stopped. Twelve ! It was past two when he 
went to bed. The clock was wrong. An icicle must have 
got into the works. Twelve ! 

He touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this most 
preposterous clock. Its rapid little pulse beat twelve : and 
stopped. 

" Why, it isn't possible," 1 said Scrooge, " that I can have 
slept through a whole day and far into another night. It 
isn't possible that anything has happened to the sun, and 
this is twelve at noon ! " 

The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of bed, 
and groped his way to the window. He was obliged to rub 
the frost off with the sleeve of his dressing-gown before he 
could see anything ; and could see very little then. All he 
could make out was, that it was still very foggy and extremely 
cold, and that there was no noise of people running to and 



PERPLEXING THOUGHTS. 31 

fro, and making a great stir, as there unquestionably would 
have been if night had beaten off' bright day, and taken 
possession of the world. This was a great relief, because 
"three days after sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. 
Ebenezer Scrooge or his order," and so forth, would have 
become a mere United States' 1 security if there were no days 
to count by. 

Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and 
thought it over and over and over, and could make nothing 
of it. The more he thought, the more perplexed he was ; 
and the more he endeavoured not to think, the more he 
thought. 

Mai-ley^s Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every time he 
resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it was all 
a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong spring 
released, to its first position, and presented the same problem 
to be worked all through, " Was it a dream or not ? " 

Scrooge lay in this state until the chime had gone three 
quarters more, when he remembered, on a sudden, that the 
Ghost had warned him of a visitation when the bell tolled 
one. He resolved to lie awake until the hour was passed ; 
and, considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to 
Heaven, this was perhaps the wisest resolution in his power. 

The quarter was so long, that he was more than once 
convinced he must have sunk into a doze unconsciously, and 
missed the clock. At length it broke upon his listening ear. 

" Ding, dong ! " 

" A quarter past," said Scrooge, counting. 

" Ding, dong ! " 

" Half-past ! " said Scrooge. 

" Ding, dong ! " 

" A quarter to it,"" said Scrooge. 

" Ding, dong ! " 

"The hour itself," said Scrooge, triumphantly, " and nothing 
else ! " 

He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now did 



32 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy ONE. Light flashed up 
in the room upon the instant, and the curtains of his bed 
were drawn. 

The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a 
hand. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his 
back, but those to which his face was addressed. The curtains 
of his bed were drawn aside ; and Scrooge, starting up into a 
half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the 
unearthly visitor who drew them : as close to it as I am now 
to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow. 

It was a strange figure like a child : yet not so like a 
child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural 
medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded 
from the view, and being diminished to a child's proportions. 
Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was 
white as if with age.; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in 
it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were 
very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold 
were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately 
formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a 
tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound 
a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held 
a branch of fresh green holly in its hand ; and, in singular 
contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed 
with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, 
that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear 
jet of light, by which all this was visible ; and which was 
doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a 
great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm. 

Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing 
steadiness, was not its strangest quality. For as its belt 
sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, 
and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so 
the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness : being now a 
thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, 
now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a 



ANOTHER UNEARTHLY VISITOR. 33 

body : of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible 
in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the 
very wonder of this, it would be itself again ; distinct and 
clear as ever. 

"Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to 
me? 1 ' asked Scrooge. 

" I am ! " 

The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if 
instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance. 

" Who, and what are you ? " Scrooge demanded. 

" I am the Ghost of Christmas Past/' 

"Long Past?" inquired Scrooge: observant of its dwarfish 
stature. 

"No. Your past." 

Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody why, if 
anybody could have asked him ; but he had a special desire 
to see the Spirit in his cap ; and begged him to be covered. 

" What ! " exclaimed the Ghost, " would you so soon put 
out, with worldly hands, the light I give ? Is it not enough 
that you are one of those whose passions made this cap, and 
force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon 
my brow ! " 

Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or any 
knowledge of having wilfully "bonneted" the Spirit at any 
period of his life. He then made bold to inquire what 
business brought him there. 

" Your welfare ! " said the Ghost. 

Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could not 
help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been 
more conducive to that entl. The Spirit must have heard 
him thinking, for it said immediately: 

" Your reclamation, then. Take heed ! " 

It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him 
gently by the arm. 

" Rise ! and walk with me ! " 

It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the 



34 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

weather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian purposes ; 
that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way below 
freezing ; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, dressing- 
gown, and nightcap ; and that he had a cold upon him at 
that time. The grasp, though gentle as a woman's hand, 
was not to be resisted. He rose : but finding that the Spirit 
made towards the window, clasped his robe in supplication. 

" I am a mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, "and liable to fall. 1 ' 1 

" Bear but a touch of my hand there" said the Spirit, 
laying it upon his heart, "and you shall be upheld in more 
than this!" 

As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, 
and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either 
hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it 
was to be seen. The darkness and the mist had vanished 
Avith it, for it was a clear, cold, winter day, with snow upon 
the ground. 

" Good Heaven ! " said Scrooge, clasping his hands together, 
as he looked about him. " I was bred in this place. I was 
a boy here ! " 

The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, 
though it had been light and instantaneous, appeared still 
present to the old man's sense of feeling. He was conscious 
of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected 
with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares 
long, long, forgotten ! 

"Your lip is trembling," said the Ghost. "And what is 
that upon your cheek ? " 

Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice, 
that it was a pimple; and begged the Ghost to lead him 
where he would. 

" You recollect the way ? " inquired the Spirit. * 

"Remember it!" cried Scrooge with fervour; "I could 
walk it blindfold." 

" Strange to have forgotten it for so many years ! " observed 
the Ghost. "Let us go on." 



FAMILIAR SCENES. 35 

They walked along the road, Scrooge recognising even- 
gate, and post, and tree ; until a little market-town appeared 
in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river. 
Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them 
with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in 
country gigs and carts, driven by farmers. All these boys 
were in great spirits, and shouted to each other, until the 
broad fields were so full of merry music, that the crisp air 
laughed to hear it ! 

" These are but shadows of the things that have been," said 
the Ghost. " They have no consciousness of us. r ' 

The jocund travellers came on ; and as they came, Scrooge 
knew and named them every one. Why was he rejoiced beyond 
all bounds to see them ! Why did his cold eye glisten, and 
his heart leap up as they went past ! Why was he filled 
with gladness when he heard them give each other Merry 
Christmas, as they parted at cross-roads and bye- ways, for 
their several homes ! What was merry Christmas to Scrooge ? 
Out upon merry Christmas ! What good had it ever done 
to him ? 

" The school is not quite deserted," said the Ghost. " A 
solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still." 

Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed. 

They left the high-road, by a well-remembered lane, and 
soon approached a mansion of dull red brick, with a little 
weathercock-surmounted cupola, on the roof, and a bell 
hanging in it. It was a large house, but one of broken 
fortunes ; for the spacious offices were little used, their walls 
were damp and mossy, their windows broken, and their 
gates decayed. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables ; 
and the coach-houses and sheds were over-run with grass. 
Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state, within ; for 
entering the dreary hall, and glancing through the open 
doors of many rooms, they found them poorlv furnished, 
cold, and vast. There was an earthy savour in the air, a 
chilly bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow 



36 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

with too much getting up by candle-light, and not too 
much to eat. 

They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a 
door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and 
disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by 
lines of plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a lonely 
boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down 
upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he 
used to be. 

Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and scuffle 
from the mice behind the panelling, not a drip from the half- 
thawed water-spout in the dull yard behind, not a sigh among 
the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not the idle 
swinging of an empty store-house door, no, not a clicking in 
the fire, but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with a softening 
influence, and gave a freer passage to his tears. 

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his 
younger self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly a man, in 
foreign garments : wonderfully real and distinct to look at : 
stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and 
leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood. 

" Why, it's Ali Baba ! " Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. " It's 
dear old honest Ali Baba ! Yes, yes, I know ! One Christ- 
mas time, when yonder solitary child was left here all alone, 
he did come, for the first time, just like that. Poor boy ! And 
Valentine," said Scrooge, " and his wild brother, Orson ; there 
they go ! And what's his name, who was put down in his 
drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus ; don't you see him ! 
And the Sultan's Groom turned upside down by the Genii ; 
there he is upon his head ! Serve him right. I'm glad of it. 
What business had he to be married to the Princess ! " 

To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature 
on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between 
laughing and crying ; and to see his heightened and excited 
face ; would have been a surprise to his business friends in 
the citv, indeed. 



SCROOGE'S SCHOOL DAYS. 37 

" There's the Parrot ! " cried Scrooge. " Green body and 
yellow tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the 
top of his head ; there he is ! Poor Robin Crusoe, he called 
him, when he came home again after sailing round the 
island. ' Poor Robin Crusoe, where have you been, Robin 
Crusoe ? ' The man thought he was dreaming, but he wasn't. 
It was the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday, running 
for his life to the little creek ! Halloa ! Hoop ! Halloo !" 

Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his 
usual character, he said, in pity for his former self, "Poor 
boy ! " and cried again. 

"I wish, 11 Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his 
pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his 
cuff': " but it's too late now. 11 

" What is the matter ? " asked the Spirit. 

" Nothing, 11 said Scrooge. " Nothing. There was a boy 
singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should 
like to have given him something : that's all. 11 

The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand : 
saying as it did so, " Let us see another Christmas ! 11 

Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words, and the room 
became a little darker and more dirty. The panels shrunk, 
the windows cracked ; fragments of plaster fell out of the 
ceiling, and the naked laths were shown instead ; but how 
all this was brought about, Scrooge knew no more than you 
do. He only knew that it was quite correct ; that everything 
had happened so ; that there he was, alone again, when all 
the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays. 

He was not reading now, but walking up and down de- 
spairingly. Scrooge looked at the Ghost, and with a mournful 
shaking of his head, glanced anxiously towards the door. 

It opened ; and a little girl, much younger than the boy, 
came darting in, and putting her arms about his neck, and 
often kissing him, addressed him as her "Dear, dear 
brother. 11 

" I have come to bring you home, dear brother ! " said the 



38 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

child, clapping her tiny hands, and bending down to laugh. 
" To bring you home, home, home ! " 

" Home, little Fan ? " returned the boy. 

" Yes ! " said the child, brimful of glee. " Home, for good 
and all. Home, for ever and ever. Father is so much kinder 
than he used to be, that home's like Heaven ! He spoke so 
gently to me one dear night when I was going to bed, that 
I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might come 
home ; and he said Yes, you should ; and sent me in a coach 
to bring you. And you're to be a man ! " said the child, 
opening her eyes, " and are never to come back here ; but 
first, we're to be together all the Christmas long, and have 
the merriest time in all the world." 

" You are quite a woman, little Fan ! " exclaimed the boy. 

She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch his 
head ; but being too little, laughed again, and stood on 
tiptoe to embrace him. Then she began to drag him, in her 
childish eagerness, towards the door ; and he, nothing loth to 
go, accompanied her. 

A terrible voice in the hall cried, " Bring down Master 
Scrooge's box, there ! " and in the hall appeared the school- 
master himself, who glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious 
condescension, and threw him into a dreadful state of mind 
by shaking hands with him. He then conveyed him and his 
sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best-parlour that 
ever was seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the celestial 
and terrestrial globes in the windows, were waxy with cold. 
Here he produced a decanter of curiously light wine, and a 
block of curiously heavy cake, and administered instalments 
of those dainties to the young people : at the same time, 
sending out a meagre servant to offer a glass of " something " 
to the postboy, who answered that he thanked the gentleman, 
but if it was the same tap as he had tasted before, he had 
rather not. Master Scrooge's trunk being by this time tied 
on to the top of the chaise, the children bade the school- 
master good-bye right willingly ; and getting into it, drove 



OLD FEZZIWIG. 39 

gaily down the garden-sweep : the quick wheels dashing the 
hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves of the evergreens 
like spray. 

44 Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have 
withered," said the Ghost. " But she had a large heart ! " 

" So she had," cried Scrooge. " You're right. I will not 
gainsay it, Spirit. God forbid ! " 

" She died a woman," said the Ghost, "and had, as I think, 
children." 

" One child," Scrooge returned. 

" True," said the Ghost. " Your nephew ! "' 

Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind ; and answered briefly, 
" Yes." 

Although they had but that moment left the school behind 
them, they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city, 
where shadowy passengers passed and repassed ; where shadowy 
carts and coaches battled for the way, and all the strife and 
tumult of a real city were. It was made plain enough, by 
the dressing of the shops, that here too it was Christmas 
time again ; but it was evening, and the streets were 
lighted up. 

The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked 
Scrooge if he knew it. 

" Know it ! " said Scrooge. " Was I apprenticed here ! " 

They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welsh 
wig, sitting behind such a high desk, that if he had been two 
inches taller he must have knocked his head against the 
ceiling, Scrooge cried in great excitement : 

" Why, it's old Fezziwig ! Bless his heart ; it's Fez/iwig 
alive again ! " 

Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at the 
clock, which pointed to the hour of seven. He rubbed his 
hands ; adjusted his capacious waistcoat ; laughed all over 
himself, from his shoes to his organ of benevolence ; and 
called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial voice : 

44 Yo ho, there ! Ebenezer ! Dick ! * 



40 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

Scrooge's former self, now grown a young man, came briskly 
in, accompanied by his fellow-'prentice. 

"Dick Wilkins, to be sure! 11 said Scrooge to the Ghost. 
" Bless me, yes. There he is. He was very much attached 
to me, was Dick. Poor Dick ! Dear, dear ! " 

" Yo ho, my boys ! " said Fezziwig. " No more work to- 
night. Christinas Eve, Dick. Christinas, Ebenczer ! Let's 
have the shutters up, 11 cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap 
of his hands, " before a man can say Jack Robinson ! " 

You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it ! 
They charged into the street with the shutters one, two, 
three had 'em up in their places four, five, six barred ""em 
and pinned 'em seven, eight, nine and came back before 
you could have got to twelve, panting like race-horses. 

" Hilli-ho ! " cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the 
high desk, with wonderful agility. " Clear away, my lads, 
and let's have lots of room here ! Hilli-ho, Dick ! Chirrup, 
Ebenezer ! " 

Clear away ! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared 
away, or couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezziwig look- 
ing on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was 
packed off', as if it were dismissed from public life for ever- 
more ; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were 
trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire ; and the warehouse 
was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room, as 
you would desire to see upon a winter's night. 

In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the 
lofty desk, and made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty 
stomach-aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial 
smile. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming and 
lovable. In came the six young followers whose hearts they 
broke. In came all the young men and women employed in 
the business. In came the housemaid, with her cousin, the 
baker. In came the cook, with her brother's particular friend, 
the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was 
suspected of not having board enough from his master ; trying 



THE FEZZIWIG BALL. 41 

to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one, who 
uas proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress. 
In they all came, one after another ; some shyly, some boldly, 
some gracefully, some awkwardly, some pushing, some pulling ; 
in they all came, anyhow and everyhow. Away they all went, 
twenty couple at once ; hands half round and back again 
the other way ; down the middle and up again ; round 
and round in various stages of affectionate grouping; old 
top couple always turning up in the wrong place ; new top 
couple starting off' again, as soon as they got there ; all top 
couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them ! When 
this result was brought about, old Fezziwig, clapping his 
hands to stop the dance, cried out, "Well done! 11 and the 
fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter, especially 
provided for that purpose. But scorning rest, upon his 
reappearance, he instantly began again, though there were no 
dancers yet, as if the other fiddler had been carried home, 
exhausted, on a shutter, and he were a bran-new man 
resolved to beat him out of sight, or perish. 

There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more 
dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there 
was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece 
of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer. 
But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast 
and Boiled, when the fiddler (an artful dog, mind ! The sort 
of man who knew his business better than you or I could 
have told it him !) struck up " Sir Roger de Coverley.' 1 Then 
old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top 
couple, too ; with a good stiff" piece of work cut out for them ; 
three or four and twenty pair of partners ; people who were 
not to be trifled with ; people who would dance, and had no 
notion of walking. 

But if they had been twice as many ah, four times old 
Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would 
Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner 
in every sense of the term. If that's not high praise, tell me 



42 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

higher, and I'll use it. A positive light appeared to issue 
from Fezziwig's calves. They shone in every part of the 
dance like moons. You couldn't have predicted, at any given 
time, what would have become of them next. And when old 
Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance ; 
advance and retire, both hands to your partner, bow and 
curtsey, corkscrew, thread-the-needle, and back again to 
your place ; Fezziwig " cut " cut so deftly, that he appeared 
to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again without 
a stagger. 

When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. 
Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side 
of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually 
as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas. 
When everybody had retired but the two 'prentices, they did 
the same to them ; and thus the cheerful voices died away, 
and the lads were left to their beds; which were under a 
counter in the back-shop. 

During the whole of this time, Scrooge had acted like a 
man out of his wits. His heart and soul were in the scene, 
and with his former self. He corroborated everything, 
remembered everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent 
the strangest agitation. It was not until now, when the 
bright faces of his former self and Dick were turned from 
them, that he remembered the Ghost, and became conscious 
that it was looking full upon him, while the light upon its 
head burnt very clear. 

" A small matter," said the Ghost, " to make these silly 
folks so full of gratitude." 

" Small ! " echoed Scrooge. 

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, 
who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig : 
and when he had done so, said, 

" Why ! Is it not ? He has spent but a few pounds of 
your mortal money : three or four perhaps. Is that so 
much that he deserves this praise ? " 



SCROOGE'S OLD LOVE. 43 

" It isn't that," said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and 
speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. 
" It isn't that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy 
or unhappy ; to make our service light or burdensome ; a 
pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and 
looks ; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impos- 
sible to add and count 'em up : what then ? The happiness 
he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune." 

He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped. 

" What is the matter ? " asked the Ghost. 

" Nothing particular," said Scrooge. 

" Something, I think ? " the Ghost insisted. 

" No," said Scrooge, " No. I should like to be able to say 
a word or two to my clerk just now. That's all." 

His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utterance 
to the wish ; and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood side by 
side in the open air. 

" My time grows short," observed the Spirit. " Quick ! " 

This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any one whom he 
could see, but it produced an immediate effect. For again 
Scrooge saw himself. He was older now ; a man in the prime 
of life. His face had not the harsh and rigid lines of later 
years ; but it had begun to wear the signs of care and avarice. 
There was an eager, greedy, restless motion in the eye, which 
showed the passion that had taken root, and where the 
shadow of the growing tree would fall. 

He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young 
girl in a mourning-dress : in whose eyes there were tears, 
which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of 
Christmas Past. 

" It matters little," she said, softly. " To you, very little. 
Another idol has displaced me ; and if it can cheer and com- 
fort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have 
no just cause to grieve." 

" What Idol has displaced you ? " he rejoined. 

" A golden one." 



44 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

" This is the even-handed dealing of the world ! " he said. 
"There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and 
there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity 
as the pursuit of wealth ! " 

"You fear the world too much, 11 she answered, gently. 
"All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being 
beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your 
nobler aspirations fall off' one by one, until the master-passion, 
Gain, engrosses you. Have I not ? " 

" What then ? " he retorted. " Even if I have grown so 
much wiser, what then ? I am not changed towards you. 1 ' 

She shook her head. 

Am I ? " 

" Our contract is an old one. It was made when we were 
both poor and content to be so, until, in good season, we could 
improve our worldly fortune by our patient industry. You 
are changed. When it was made, you were another man. 11 

"I was a boy, 11 he said impatiently. 

" Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you 
are, 11 she returned. " I am. That which promised happiness 
when we were one in heart, is fraught with misery now that 
we are two. How often and how keenly I have thought of 
this, I will not say. It is enough that I have thought of it, 
and can release you. 11 

" Have I ever sought release ? " 

" In words. No. Never. 11 

" In what, then ? " 

" In a changed nature ; in an altered spirit ; in another 
atmosphere of life ; another Hope as its great end. In 
everything that made my love of any worth or value in your 
sight. If this had never been between us, 11 said the girl, 
looking mildly, but with steadiness, upon him ; " tell me, 
would you seek me out and try to win me now ? Ah, no ! " 

He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition, in 
spite of himself. But he said with a struggle, " You think 
not. 11 



ONE SHADOW MORE. 45 

" I would gladly think otherwise if I could,"" she answered, 
" Heaven knows ! When / have learned a Truth like this, 
I know how strong and irresistible it must be. But if you 
were free to-dav, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I believe 
that you would choose a dowerless girl you who, in your 
very confidence with her, weigh everything by Gain : or, 
choosing her, if for a moment you were false enough to your 
one guiding principle to do so, do I not know that your 
repentance and regret would surely follow ? I do ; and I 
release you. With a full heart, for the love of him you 
once were." 

He was about to speak ; but with her head turned from 
him, she resumed. 

" You may the memory of what is past half makes me 
hope you will have pain in this. A very, very brief time, 
and you will dismiss the recollection of it, gladly, as an 
unprofitable dream, from which it happened well that you 
awoke. May you be happy in the life you have chosen ! "" 

She left him, and they parted. 

" Spirit ! " said Scrooge, u show me no more ! Conduct 
me home. Why do. you delight to torture me ? "" 

" One shadow more ! " exclaimed the Ghost. 

" No more ! " cried Scrooge. " No more. I don't wish to 
see it. Show me no more ! n 

But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, 
and forced him to observe what happened next. 

They were in another scene and place ; a room, not very 
large or handsome, but full of comfort. Near to the winter 
fire sat a beautiful young girl, so like that last that Scrooge 
believed it was the same, until he saw her, now a comely 
matron, sitting opposite her daughter. The noise in this 
room was perfectly tumultuous, for there were more children 
there, than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count ; 
and, unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not 
forty children conducting themselves like one, but every 
child was conducting itself like forty. The consequences 



46 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

were uproarious beyond belief ; but no one seemed to care ; 
on the contrary, the mother and daughter laughed heartily, 
and enjoyed it very much ; and the latter, soon beginning to 
mingle in the sports, got pillaged by the young brigands 
most ruthlessly. What would I not have given to be one of 
them ! Though I never could have been so rude, no, no ! I 
wouldn't for the wealth of all the world have crushed that 
braided hair, and torn it down ; and for the precious little 
shoe, I wouldn't have plucked it off, God bless my soul ! to 
save my life. As to measuring her waist in sport, as they 
did, bold young brood, I couldn't have done it ; I should 
have expected my arm to have grown round it for a punish- 
ment, and never come straight again. And yet I should 
have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her lips ; to have 
questioned her, that she might have opened them ; to have 
looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never 
raised a blush ; to have let loose waves of hair, an inch of 
which would be a keepsake beyond price : in short, I should 
have liked, I do confess, to have had the lightest licence 
of a child, and yet to have been man enough to know its 
value. 

But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such a 
rush immediately ensued that she with laughing face and 
plundered dress was borne towards it the centre of a flushed 
and boisterous group, just in time to greet the father, who 
came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys 
and presents. Then the shouting and the struggling, and 
the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter ! 
The scaling him with chairs for ladders to dive into his 
pockets, despoil him of brown-paper parcels, hold on tight 
by his cravat, hug him round his neck, pommel his back, 
and kick his legs in irrepressible affection ! The shouts of 
wonder and delight with which the development of every 
package was received ! The terrible announcement that the 
baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll's frying- 
pan into his mouth, and was more than suspected of having 



SCROOGE'S APPEAL TO THE GHOST. 47 

swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued on a wooden platter ! 
The immense relief of finding this a false alarm ! The joy, 
and gratitude, and ecstasy ! They are all indescribable alike. 
It is enough that by degrees the children and their emotions 
got out of the parlour, and by one stair at a time, up to the 
top of the house ; where they went to bed, and so subsided. 

And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than ever, 
when the master of the house, having his daughter leaning 
fondly on him, sat down with her and her mother at his 
own fireside ; and when he thought that such another 
creature, quite as graceful and as full of promise, might 
have called him father, and been a spring-time in the 
haggard winter of his life, his sight grew very dim indeed. 

" Belle," said the husband, turning to his wife with a 
smile, " I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon/ 1 

"Who was it?" 

" Guess ! " 

" How can I ? Tut, don't I know ? " she added in the 
same breath, laughing as he laughed. " Mr. Scrooge." 

" Mr. Scrooge it was. I passed his office window ; and as 
it was not shut up, and he had a candle inside, I could 
scarcely help seeing him. His partner lies upon the point 
of death, I hear ; and there he sat alone. Quite alone in 
the world, I do believe." 

" Spirit ! " said Scrooge in a broken voice, " remove me 
from this place." 

"I told you these were shadows of the things that have 
been," said the Ghost. " That they are what they are, do 
not blame me ! " 

" Remove me ! " Scrooge exclaimed, " I cannot bear it ! " 

He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon 
him with a face, in which in some strange way there were 
fragments of all the faces it had shown him, wrestled with it. 

" Leave me ! Take me back. Haunt me no longer ! " 

In the struggle, if that can be called a struggle in which 
the Ghost with no visible resistance on its own part was 



48 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

undisturbed by any effort of its adversary, Scrooge observed 
that its light was burning high and bright; and dimly 
connecting that with its influence over him, he seized the 
extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden action pressed it down 
upon its head. 

The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher 
covered its whole form ; but though Scrooge pressed it down 
with all his force, he could not hide the light, which streamed 
from under it, in an unbroken flood upon the ground. 

He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an 
irresistible drowsiness ; and, further, of being in his own bed- 
room. He gave the cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand 
relaxed ; and had barely time to reel to bed, before he sank 
into a heavy sleep. 




THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS. 

AWAKING in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore, and 
sitting up in bed to get his thoughts together, Scrooge had 
no occasion to be told that the bell was again upon the 
stroke of One. He felt that he was restored to consciousness 
in the right nick of time, for the especial purpose of holding 
a conference with the second messenger despatched to him 
through Jacob Marley's intervention. But, finding that he 
turned uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which 
of his curtains this new spectre would draw back, he put 
them every one aside with his own hands, and Iving down 
again, established a sharp look-out all round the bed. For, 
he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of its 
appearance, and did not wish to be taken by surprise, and 
made nervous. 

Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who plume themselves 
on being acquainted with a move or two, and being usually 
equal to the time-of-day, express the wide range of their 
capacity for adventure by observing that they are good for 
anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter ; between which 
opposite extremes, no doubt, there lies a tolerably wide and 
comprehensive range of subjects. Without venturing for 
Scrooge quite as hardily as this, I don't mind calling on you 
to believe that he was ready for a good broad field of 
strange appearances, and that nothing between a baby and 
rhinoceros would have astonished him very much. 



50 A CHIUSTMAS CAROL. 

:\ow, being prepared for almost anything, he was not by 
any means prepared for nothing ; and, consequently, when the 
Bell struck One, and no shape appeared, he was taken with a 
violent fit of trembling. Five minutes, ten minutes, a quarter 
of an hour went by, yet nothing came. All this time, he lay 
upon his bed, the very core and centre of a blaze of ruddy 
light, which streamed upon it when the clock proclaimed the 
hour; and which, being only light, was more alarming than 
a dozen ghosts, as he was powerless to make out what it 
meant, or would be at; and was sometimes apprehensive 
that he might be at that very moment an interesting case of 
spontaneous combustion, without having the consolation of 
knowing it. At last, however, he began to think as you or 
I would have thought at first ; for it is always the person not 
in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done 
in it, and would unquestionably have done it too at last, I 
say, he began to think that the source and secret of this 
ghostly light might be in the adjoining room, from whence, 
on further tracing it, it seemed to shine. This idea taking 
full possession of his mind, he got up softly and shuffled in 
his slippers to the door. 

The moment Scrooge's hand was on the lock, a strange 
voice called him by his name, and bade him enter. He 
obeyed. 

It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. 
But it had undergone a surprising transformation. The walls 
and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a 
perfect grove ; from every part of which, bright gleaming 
berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and 
ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors had 
been scattered there ; and such a mighty blaze went roaring 
up the chimney, as that dull petrification of a hearth had 
never known in Scrooge"^ time, or MarleyX or for many and 
many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor, to form 
a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, 
great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages. 



SCROOGE'S THIRD VISITOR. 51 

mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chest- 
nuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, 
immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that 
made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy- 
state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to 
see ; who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty's 
horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, 
as he came peeping round the door. 

" Come in ! " exclaimed the Ghost. " Come in ! and know 
me better, man ! " 

Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this 
Spirit. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been ; and 
though the Spirit's eyes were clear and kind, he did not like 
to meet them. 

" I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,' 1 '' said the Spirit. 
" Look upon me ! " 

Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple 
green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment 
hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was 
bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any 
artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the 
garment, were also bare; and on its head it wore no other 
covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining 
icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free ; free as its 
genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, 
its unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air. Girded 
round its middle was an antique scabbard ; but no sword 
was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust. 

" You have never seen the like of me before ! " exclaimed 
the Spirit. 

" Never," Scrooge made answer to it. 

" Have never walked forth with the younger members of 
my family ; meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers 
born in these later years?" pursued the Phantom. 

" I don't think I have," said Scrooge. u , I am afraid I have 
not. Have you had many brothers, Spirit ? " 



52 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

"More than eighteen hundred,"" said the Ghost. 

" A tremendous family to provide for ! " muttered Scrooge. 

The Ghost of Christmas Present rose. 

" Spirit,"" said Scrooge submissively, " conduct me where 
you will. I went forth last night on compulsion, and I learnt 
a lesson which is working now. To-night, if you have aught 
to teach me, let me profit by it." 

" Touch my robe ! " t _ 

Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast. 

Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, geese, game, 
poultry, brawn, meat, pigs, sausages, oysters, pies, puddings, 
fruit, and punch, all vanished instantly. So did the room, 
the fire, the ruddy glow, the hour of night, and they stood 
in the city streets on Christmas morning, where (for the 
weather was severe) the people made a rough, but brisk and 
not unpleasant kind of music, in scraping the snow from the 
pavement in front of their dwellings, and from the tops of 
their houses, whence it was mad delight to the boys to see 
it come plumping down into the road below, and splitting 
into artificial little snow-storms. 

The house fronts looked black enough, and the windows 
blacker, contrasting with the smooth white sheet of snow 
upon the roofs, and with the dirtier snow upon the ground ; 
which last deposit had been ploughed up in deep furrows by 
the heavy wheels of carts and waggons ; furrows that crossed 
and re-crossed each other hundreds of times where the great 
streets branched oft'; and made intricate channels, hard to trace 
in the thick yellow mud and icy water. The sky was gloomy, 
and the shortest streets were choked up with a dingy mist, 
half thawed, half frozen, whose heavier particles descended 
in a shower of sooty atoms, as if all the chimneys in Great 
Britain had, by one consent, caught fire, and were blazing away 
to their dear hearts' content. There was nothing very cheerful 
in the climate or the town, and yet was there an air of cheer- 
fulness abroad that the clearest summer air and brightest 
summer sun might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain. 



CHRISTMAS SHOPS. 53 

For, the people who were shovelling away on the house- 
tops were jovial and full of glee ; calling out to one another 
from the parapets, and now and then exchanging a facetious 
snowball better-natured missile far than many a wordy jest 
laughing heartily if it went right and not less heartily if it 
went wrong. The poulterers 1 shops were still half open, and 
the fruiterers' 1 were radiant in their glory. There were great, 
round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waist- 
coats of jollv old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling 
out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were 
ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions, shining in 
the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars, and winking 
from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went 
by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were 
pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids ; there 
were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers 1 benevolence 
to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths might 
water gratis as they passed ; there were piles of filberts, mossy 
and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among 
the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through Avithered 
leaves ; there were Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting 
off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great 
compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and 
beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after 
dinner. The very gold and silver fish, set forth among 
these choice fruits in a bowl, though members of a dull and 
stagnant-blooded race, appeared to know that there was 
something going on ; and, to a fish, went gasping round and 
round their little world in slow and passionless excitement. 

The Grocers' ! oh the Grocers' ! nearly closed, with perhaps 
two shutters down, or one; but through those gaps such 
glimpses ! It was not alone that the scales descending on the 
counter made a merry sound, or that the twine and roller 
parted company so briskly, or that the canisters were rattled 
up and down like juggling tricks, or even that the blended 
scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the nose, or even 



54 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

that the raisins were so plentiful and rare, the almonds so 
extremely white, the sticks of cinnamon so long and straight, 
the other spices so delicious, the candied fruits so caked and 
spotted with molten sugar as to make the coldest lookers-on 
feel faint and subsequently bilious. Nor was it that the figs 
were moist and pulpy, or that the French plums blushed in 
modest tartness from their highly-decorated boxes, or that 
everything was good to eat and in its Christmas dress ; but 
the customers were all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful 
promise of the day, that they tumbled up against each other 
at the door, crashing their wicker baskets wildly, and left 
their purchases upon the counter, and came running back to 
fetch them, and committed hundreds of the like mistakes, in 
the best humour possible ; while the Grocer and his people 
were so frank and fresh that the polished hearts with which 
they fastened their aprons behind might have been their own, 
Avorn outside for general inspection, and for Christmas daws 
to peck at if they chose. 

But soon the steeples called good people all, to church and 
chapel, and away they came, flocking through the streets in 
their best clothes, and with their gayest faces. And at the 
same time there emerged from scores of bye-streets, lanes, and 
nameless turnings, innumerable people, carrying their dinners 
to the bakers 1 shops. The sight of these poor revellers 
appeared to interest the Spirit very much, for he stood with 
Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway, and taking off' the 
covers as their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on their 
dinners from his torch. And it was a very uncommon kind 
of torch, for once or twice when there were angry words 
between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each other, he 
shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good 
humour was restored directly. For they said, it was a shame 
to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And so it was ! God love 
it, so it was ! 

In time the bells ceased, and the bakers were shut up ; and 
yet there was a genial shadowing forth of all these dinners 



THE SPIRITS TOUCH. 55 

and the progress of their cooking, in the thawed blotch of 
wet above each baker's oven ; where the pavement smoked as 
if its stones were cooking too. 

" Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from 
your torch ? " asked Scrooge. 

" There is. My own."" 

" Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day ! " 
asked Scrooge. 

" To any kindly given. To a poor one most. 11 

" Why to a poor one most ? " asked Scrooge. 

" Because it needs it most."" 

" Spirit," said Scrooge, after a moment's thought, " I wonder 
you, of all the beings in the many worlds about us, should 
desire to cramp these people's opportunities of innocent 
enjoyment.'" 

" I ! " cried the Spirit. 

" You would deprive them of their means of dining every 
seventh day, often the only day on which they can be said 
to dine at all," said Scrooge. "Wouldn't you ?" 

" I ! " cried the Spirit. 

" You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day ? " said 
Scrooge. " And it comes to the same thing." 

" / seek ! " exclaimed the Spirit. 

" Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your 
name, or at least in that of your familv," said Scrooge. 

"There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the 
Spirit, " who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds 
of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness 
in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and 
kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge 
their doings on themselves, not us." 

Scrooge promised that he would ; /and they went on, 
invisible, as they had been before, into the suburbs of the 
town. It was a remarkable quality of the Ghost (which 
Scrooge had observed at the baker's), that notwithstanding 
his gigantic size, he could accommodate himself to any place 



36 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

with ease ; and that he stood beneath a low roof quite as 
gracefully and like a supernatural creature, as it was possible 
he could have done in any lofty hall. 

And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in 
showing off this power of his, or else it was his own kind, 
generous, hearty nature, and his sympathy with all poor 
men, that led him straight to Scrooge's clerk's ; for there he 
went, and took Scrooge with him, holding to his robe ; and 
on the threshold of the door the Spirit smiled, and stopped 
to bless Bob Cratchit's dwelling with the sprinkling of his 
torch. Think of that ! Bob had but fifteen " Bob " a-week 
himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his 
Christian name; and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present 
blessed his four-roomed house ! 

Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit's wife, dressed out 
but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but brave in ribbons, 
which are cheap and make a goodly show for sixpence ; and 
she laid the cloth, assisted by Belinda Cratchit, second of 
her daughters, also brave in ribbons ; while Master Peter 
Cratchit plunged a fork into the saucepan of potatoes, and 
getting the corners of his monstrous shirt collar (Bob's private 
property, conferred upon his son and heir in honour of the 
day) into his mouth, rejoiced to find himself so gallantly 
attired, and yearned to show his linen in the fashionable Parks. 
And now two smaller Cratchits, boy and girl, came tearing 
in, screaming that outside the baker's they had smelt the 
goose, and known it for their own ; and basking in luxurious 
thoughts of sage and onion, these young Cratchits danced 
about the table, and exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the 
skies, while he (not proud, although his collars nearly choked 
him) blew the fire, until the slow potatoes bubbling up, 
knocked loudly at the saucepan-lid to be let out and 
peeled. 

" What has ever got your precious lather then ? " said Mrs. 
Cratchit. "And your " brother, Tiny Tim! And Martha 
warn't as late last Christmas Day by half-an-hour ? " 



AT BOB CRATCHITS. 57 

" Hero's Martha, mother ! " said a girl, appearing as she 
spoke. 

" Here's Martha, mother ! " cried the two young Cratchits. 
" Hurrah ! There's .mch a goose, Martha ! " 

" Why, bless your heart alive, my dear, how late you are ! " 
said Mrs. Cratchit, kissing her a dozen times, and taking oft 
her shawl and bonnet for her with officious zeal. 

" We'd a deal of work to finish up last night," replied the 
girl, " and had to clear away this morning, mother ! " 

"Well ! Never mind so long as you are come," said Mrs. 
Cratchit. "Sit ye down before the fire, my dear, and have 
a warm, Lord bless ye ! " 

" No, no ! There's father coming, 1 '' cried the two young 
Cratchits, who were everywhere at once. " Hide, Martha, 
hide ! " 

So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, the father, 
with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe, 
hanging down before him ; and his threadbare clothes darned 
up and brushed, to look seasonable ; and Tiny Tim upon his 
shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore a little crutch, and 
had his limbs supported by an iron frame ! 

" Why, where's our Martha ? " cried Bob Cratchit, looking 
round. 

" Not coming," said Mrs. Cratchit. 

" Not coming ! " said Bob, with a sudden declension in his 
high spirits ; for he had been Tim's blood horse all the way 
from church, and had come home rampant. " Not coming 
upon Christmas Day ! " 

Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, if it were only 
in joke; so she came out prematurely from behind the closet 
door, and ran into his arms, while the two young Cratchits 
hustled Tiny Tim, and bore him oft' into the wash-house, 
that he might hear the pudding singing in the copper. 

"And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Cratchit, 
when she had rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob had 
hugged his daughter to his heart's content. 



58 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

" As good as gold, 1 ' said Bob, " and better. Somehow he 
gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the 
strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, 
that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he 
was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember 
upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind 
men see." 

Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this, and 
trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing 
strong and hearty. 

His active little crutch was heard upon the floor, and back 
came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by 
his brother and sister to his stool before the fire ; and while 
Bob, turning up his cuffs as if, poor fellow, they were 
capable of being made more shabby compounded some hot 
mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round 
and round and put it on the hob to simmer ; Master Peter, 
and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the 
goose, with which they soon returned in high procession. 

Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose 
the rarest of all birds ; a feathered phenomenon, to which a 
black swan was a matter of course and in truth it was 
something very like it in that house, ilrs. Cratchit made 
the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot ; 
Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; 
Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted 
the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny 
corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for 
everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard 
upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest 
they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be 
helped. At last the dishes were set on, and grace was 
said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. 
Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared 
to plunge it in the breast ; but when she did, and when the 
long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of 



A WONDERFUL PUDDING! 59 

delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, 
excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with 
the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah ! 

There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe 
there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and 
flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal 
admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, 
it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family ; indeed, as 
Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small 
atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't ate it all at 
last ! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest 
Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to 
the eyebrows ! But now, the plates being changed by Miss 
Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone too nervous to 
bear witnesses to take the pudding up and bring it in. 

Suppose it should not be done enough ! Suppose it should 
break in turning out ! Suppose somebody should have got 
over the wall of the back-yard, and stolen it, while they 
were merry with the goose a supposition at which the two 
young Cratchits became livid ! All sorts of horrors were 
supposed. 

Hallo ! A great deal of steam ! The pudding was out of 
the copper. A smell like a washing-day ! That was the 
cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook's next 
door to each other, with a laundress's next door to that ! 
That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit 
entered flushed, but smiling proudly with the pudding, 
like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, bla/ing in half 
of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with 
Christmas holly stuck into the top. 

Oh, a wonderful pudding ! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly 
too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by 
Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that 
now the weight was off' her mind, she would confess she had 
had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had 
something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it 



60 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have 
been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed 
to hint at such a thing 

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the 
hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the 
jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges 
were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the 
fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in 
Avhat Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one ; and 
at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass. 
Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle. 

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as 
golden goblets would have done ; and Bob served it out with 
beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and 
cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed : 

" A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us ! " 
Which all the family re-echoed. 

"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all. 

He sat very close to his father's side upon his little stool. 

Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the 

child, and wished to keep him by his side, and dreaded that 

he might be taken from him. 

"Spirit," said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt 
before, " tell me if Tiny Tim will live." 

"I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost, "in the poor 
chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully 
preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, 
the child will die." 

"No, no," said Scrooge. "Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he 
will be spared." 

" If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none 
other of my race," returned the Ghost, " will find him here. 
What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and 
decrease the surplus population." 

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by 
the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief. 



MR. SCROOGE'S HEALTH DRUNK. 61 

"Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in heart, not 
adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered 
What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what 
men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the 
sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live 
than millions like this poor man's child. Oh God! to hear 
the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life 
among his hungry brothers in the dust ! " 

Scrooge bent before the Ghost's rebuke, and trembling cast 
his eyes upon the ground. But he raised them speedily, on 
hearing his own name. 

" Mr. Scrooge ! " said Bob ; " Fll give you Mr. Scrooge, the 
Founder of the Feast ! " 

" The Founder of the Feast indeed ! " cried Mrs. Cratchit, 
reddening. " I wish I had him here. I'd give him a piece 
of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he'd have a good 
appetite for it." 

" My dear," said Bob, " the children ! Christmas Day." 

" It should be Christmas Day, I am sure," said she, " on 
which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, 
unfeeling man as Mr. Scrooge. You know he is, Robert ! 
Nobody knows it better than you do, poor fellow ! " 

" My dear," was Bob's mild answer, " Christmas Day." 

" I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's," said 
Mrs. Cratchit, " not for his. Long life to him ! A merrv 
Christmas and a happy new year ! He'll be very merry and 
very happy, I have no doubt ! " 

The children drank the toast after her. It was the first of 
their proceedings which had no heartiness. Tiny Tim drank 
it last of all, but he didn't care twopence for it. Scrooge 
was the Ogre of the family. The mention of his name cast 
a dark shadow on the party, which was not dispelled for full 
five minutes. 

After it had passed away, they were ten times merrier than 
before, from the mere relief of Scrooge the Baleful being done 
with. Bob Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his 



( y> A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

eye for Master Peter, which would bring in, if obtained, full 
five-and-sixpence weekly. The two young Crate-hits laughed 
tremendously at the idea of Peter's being a man of business ; 
and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at the fire from 
between his collars, as if he were deliberating what particular 
investments he should favour when he came into the receipt 
of that bewildering income. Martha, who was a poor 
apprentice at a milliner's, then told them what kind of work 
she had to do, and how many hours she worked at a stretch, 
and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow morning for a 
good long rest; to-morrow being a holiday she passed at 
home. Also how she had seen a countess and a lord some 
days before, and how the lord "was much about as tall as 
Peter ; " at which Peter pulled up his collars so high that you 
couldn't have seen his head if you had been there. All this 
time the chestnuts and the jug went round and round; and 
by-and-bye they had a song, about a lost child travelling in 
the snow, from Tiny Tim, who had a plaintive little voice, 
and sang it very well indeed. 

There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not 
a handsome family ; they were not well dressed ; their shoes 
were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty; 
and Peter might have known, and very likely did, the inside 
of a pawnbroker's. But, they were happy, grateful, pleased 
with one another, and contented with the time; and when 
they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings 
of the Spirit's torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon 
them, and especially on Tiny Tim, until the last. 

By this time it was getting dark, and snowing pretty 
heavily ; and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets, 
the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens, parlours, and 
all sorts of rooms, was wonderful. Here, the flickering of 
the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinner, with hot 
plates baking through and through before the fire, and deep 
red curtains, ready to be drawn to shut out cold and dark- 
ness. There all the children of the house were running out 



AMONG THE MINERS. 63 

into the snow to meet their married sisters, brothers, cousins, 
uncles, aunts, and be the first to greet them. Here, again, 
were shadows on the window-blind of guests assembling ; and 
there a group of handsome girls, all hooded and fur-booted, 
and all chattering at once, tripped lightly off to some near 
neighbour's house ; where, woe upon the single man who saw 
them enter artful witches, well they knew it in a glow ! 

But, if you had judged from the numbers of people on 
their way to friendly gatherings, you might have thought 
that no one was at home to give them welcome when they 
got there, instead of every house expecting company, and 
piling up its fires half-chimney high. Blessings on it, how 
the Ghost exulted ! How it bared its breadth of breast, and 
opened its capacious palm, and floated on, outpouring, with 
a generous hand, its bright and harmless mirth on everything 
within its reach ! The very lamplighter, who ran on before, 
dotting the dusky street with specks of light, and who was 
dressed to spend the evening somewhere, laughed out loudly 
as the Spirit passed, though little kenned the lamplighter 
that he had any company but Christmas ! 

And now, without a word of warning from the Ghost, they 
stood upon a bleak and desert moor, where monstrous masses 
of rude stone were cast about, as though it were the burial- 
place of giants ; and water spread itself wheresoever it listed, 
or would have done so, but for the frost that held it prisoner ; 
and nothing grew but moss and furze, and coarse rank grass. 
Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery 
red, which glared upon the desolation for an instant, like a 
sullen eye, and frowning lower, lower, lower yet, was lost in 
the thick gloom of darkest night. 

" What place is this ? " asked Scrooge. 

"A place where Miners live, who labour in the bowels of 
the earth, 11 returned the Spirit. " But they know me. See ! 11 

A light shone from the window of a hut, and swiftly they 
advanced towards it. Passing through the wall of mud and 
stone, they found a cheerful company assembled round a 



64 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

glowing fire. An old, old man and woman, with their 
children and their children's children, and another generation 
beyond that, all decked out gaily in their holiday attire. 
The old man, in a voice that seldom rose above the howling 
of the wind upon the barren waste, was singing them a 
Christmas song it had been a very old song when he was a 

boy and from time to time they all joined in the chorus. 

So surely as they raised their voices, the old man got quite 
blithe and loud; and so surely as they stopped, his vigour 
sank again. 

The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his 
robe, and passing on above the moor, sped whither? Not 
to sea ? To sea. To Scrooge's horror, looking back, he saw 
the last of the land, a frightful range of rocks, behind them ; 
and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water, as it 
rolled and roared, and raged among the dreadful caverns it 
had worn, and fiercely tried to undermine the earth. 

Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some league 
or so from shore, on which the waters chafed and dashed, 
the wild year through, there stood a solitary lighthouse. 
Great heaps of sea- weed clung to its base, and storm-birds 
born of the wind one might suppose, as sea-weed of the 
water rose and fell about it, like the waves they skimmed. 

But even here, two men who watched the light had made 
a fire, that through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed 
out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. Joining their 
horny hands over the rough table at which they sat, they 
wished each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog ; and 
one of them : the elder, too, with his face all damaged and 
scarred with hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship 
might be : struck up a sturdy song that was like a Gale in 
itself. 

Again the Ghost sped on, above the black and heaving sea 
on, on until, being far away, as he told Scrooge, from any 
shore, they lighted on a ship. They stood beside the helms- 
man at the wheel, the look-out in the bow, the officers who 



AT SCROOGE'S NEPHEW'S. 65 

had the watch ; dark, ghostly figures in their several stations ; 
but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune, or 
had a Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his 
companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with homeward 
hopes belonging to it. And every man on board, waking or 
sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder word for another 
on that day than on any day in the year; and had shared 
to some extent in its festivities ; and had remembered those 
he cared for at a distance, and had known that they delighted 
to remember him. 

It was a great surprise to Scrooge, while listening to the 
moaning of the wind, and thinking what a solemn thing it 
was to move on through the lonely darkness over an unknown 
abyss, whose depths were secrets as profound as Death : it 
was a great surprise to Scrooge, while thus engaged, to hear 
a hearty laugh. It was a much greater surprise to Scrooge 
to recognise it as his own nephew's and to find himself in a 
bright, dry, gleaming room, with the Spirit standing smiling 
by his side, and looking at that same nephew with approving 
affability ! 

" Ha, ha ! " laughed Scrooge's nephew. " Ha, ha, ha ! " 

If you should happen, by any unlikely chance, to know a 
man more blest in a laugh than Scrooge's nephew, all I can 
say is, I should like to know him too. Introduce him to me, 
and I'll cultivate his acquaintance. 

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that 
while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing 
in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good- 
humour. When Scrooge's nephew laughed in this way : hold- 
ing his sides, rolling his head, and twisting his face into the 
most extravagant contortions : Scrooge'^ niece, by marriage, 
laughed as heartily as he. And their assembled friends being 
not a bit behindhand, roared out lustily. 

" Ha, ha ! Ha, ha, ha, ha ! " 

" He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I live ! " cried 
Scrooge's nephew. " He believed it too ! " 



66 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

" More shame for him, Fred ! " said Scrooge's niece, indig- 
nantly. Bless those women; they never do anything by 
halves. They are always in earnest. 

She was very pretty : exceedingly pretty. With a dimpled, 
surprised-looking, capital face; a ripe little mouth, that 
seemed made to be kissed as no doubt it was ; all kinds of 
good little dots about her chin, that melted into one another 
Avhen she laughed ; and the sunniest pair of eyes you ever 
saw in any little creature's head. Altogether she was what 
you would have called provoking, you know ; but satisfactory, 
too. Oh, perfectly satisfactory. 

" He's a comical old fellow," said Scrooge's nephew, " that's 
the truth : and not so pleasant as he might be. However, 
his offences carry their own punishment, and I have nothing 
to say against him. 1 ' 

"I'm sure he is very rich, Fred," hinted Scrooge's niece. 
" At least you always tell me so." 

" What of that, my dear ! " said Scrooge's nephew. " His 
wealth is of no use to him. He don't do any good with it. 
He don't make himself comfortable with it. He hasn't the 
satisfaction of thinking ha, ha, ha ! that he is ever going 
to benefit US with it." 

"I have no patience with him," observed Scrooge's niece. 
Scrooge's niece's sisters, and all the other ladies, expressed 
the same opinion. 

"Oh, I have!" said Scrooge's nephew. "I am sorry for 
him ; I couldn't be angry with him if I tried. Who suffers 
by his ill whims ! Himself, always. Here, he takes it into 
his head to dislike us, and he won't come and dine with us. 
What's the consequence ? He don't lose much of a dinner." 

"Indeed, I think he loses a very good dinner," interrupted 
Scrooge's niece. Everybody else said the same, and they 
must be allowed to have been competent judges, because 
they had just had dinner; and, with the dessert upon the 
table, were clustered round the fire, by lamplight. 

" Well ! I'm very glad to hear it," said Scrooge's nephew, 



A MERRY PARTY. 67 

"because I haven't great faith in these young housekeepers. 
What do you, say, Topper ? " 

Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge's niece's 
sisters, for he answered that a bachelor was a wretched out- 
cast, who had no right to express an opinion on the subject. 
Whereat Scrooge's niece's sister the plump one with the lace 
tucker : not the one with the roses blushed. 

"Do go on, Fred," said Scrooge's niece, clapping her hands. 
"He never finishes what he begins to say! He is such a 
ridiculous fellow ! " 

Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laugh, and as it was 
impossible to keep the infection off'; though the plump sister 
tried hard to do it with aromatic vinegar; his example was 
unanimously followed. 

"I was only going to say," said Scrooge's nephew, "that 
the consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and not making 
merry with us, is, as I think, that he loses some pleasant 
moments, which could do him no harm. I am sure he loses 
pleasanter companions than he can find in his own thoughts, 
either in his mouldy old office, or his dusty chambers. I 
mean to give him the same chance every year, whether he 
likes it or not, for I pity him. He may rail at Christmas 
till he dies, but he can't help thinking better of it I defy 
him if he finds me going there, in good temper, year after 
year, and saying Uncle Scrooge, how are you? If it only 
puts him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds, 
thafs something ; and I think I shook him yesterday." 

It was their turn to laugh now at the notion of his shaking 
Scrooge. But being thoroughly good-natured, and not much 
caring what they laughed at, so that they laughed at any 
rate, he encouraged them in their merriment, and passed the 
bottle joyously. 

After tea, they had some music. For they were a musical 
family, and knew what they were about, when they sung a 
Glee or Catch, I can assure you : especially Topper, who 
could growl away in the bass like a good one, and never 



68 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

swell the large veins in his forehead, or get red in the face 
over it. Scrooge's niece played well upon the harp; and 
played among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing : 
you might learn to whistle it in two minutes), which had 
been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the 
boarding-school, as he had been reminded by the Ghost of 
Christmas Past. When this strain of music sounded, all the 
things that Ghost had shown him, came upon his mind ; he 
softened more and more ; and thought that if he could have 
listened to it often, years ago, he might have cultivated the 
kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands, 
without resorting to the sexton's spade that buried Jacob 
Marley. 

But they didn't devote the whole evening to music. After 
a while they played at forfeits ; for it is good to be children 
sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its 
mighty Founder was a child himself. Stop ! There was first 
a game at blind-man's buff. Of course there was. And I 
no more believe Topper was really blind than I believe he 
had eyes in his boots. My opinion is, that it was a done 
thing between him and Scrooge's nephew; and that the 
Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. The way he went after 
that plump sister in the lace tucker, was an outrage on the 
credulity of human nature. Knocking down the fire-irons, 
tumbling over the chairs, bumping against the piano, 
smothering himself among the curtains, wherever she went, 
there went he ! He always knew where the plump sister was. 
He wouldn't catch anybody else. If you had fallen up 
against him (as some of them did), on purpose, he would 
have made a feint of endeavouring to seize you, which would 
have been an affront to your understanding, and would in- 
stantly have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister. 
She often cried out that it wasn't fair ; and it really was not. 
But when at last, he caught her ; when, in spite of all her 
silken rustlings, and her rapid flutterings past him, he got 
her into a corner whence there was no escape; then his 



A NEW GAME. 69 

conduct was the most execrable. For his pretending not to 
know her ; his pretending that it was necessary to touch her 
head-dress, and further to assure himself of her identity by 
pressing a certain ring upon her finger, and a certain chain 
about her neck ; was vile, monstrous ! No doubt she told 
him her opinion of it, when, another blind-man being in 
office, they were so very confidential together, behind the 
curtains. 

Scrooge's niece was not one of the blind-man's buff party, 
but was made comfortable with a large chair and a footstool, 
in a snug comer, where the Ghost and Scrooge were close 
behind her. But she joined in the forfeits, and loved her 
love to admiration with all the letters of the alphabet. 
Likewise at the game of How, When, and Where, she was 
very great, and to the secret joy of Scrooge's nephew, beat 
her sisters hollow : though they were sharp girls too, as 
Topper could have told you. There might have been twenty 
people there, young and old, but they all played, and so did 
Scrooge ; for wholly forgetting in the interest he had in what 
was going on, that his voice made no sound in their ears, he 
sometimes came out with his guess quite loud, and very often 
guessed quite right, too ; for the sharpest needle, best White- 
chapel, warranted not to cut in the eye, was not sharper than 
Scrooge ; blunt as he took it in his head to be. 

The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this mood, 
and looked upon him with such favour, that he begged like 
a boy to be allowed to stay until the guests departed. But 
this the Spirit said could not be done. 

" Here is a new game," said Scrooge. " One half hour, 
Spirit, only one ! " 

It was a Game called Yes and No, where Scrooge's nephew 
had to think of something, and the rest must find out what ; 
he only answering to their questions yes or no, as the case 
was. The brisk fire of questioning to which he was exposed, 
elicited from him that he was thinking of an animal, a live 
animal, rather a disagreeable animal, a savage animal, an 



70 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

animal that growled and grunted sometimes, and talked some- 
times, and lived in London, and walked about the streets, 
and wasn't made a show of, and wasn't led by anybody, and 
didn't live in a menagerie, and was never killed in a market, 
and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a bull, or a 
tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear. At every fresh 
question that was put to him, this nephew burst into a 
fresh roar of laughter ; and was so inexpressibly tickled, that 
he was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp. At last 
the plump sister, falling into a similar state, cried out : 

" I have found it out ! I know what it is, Fred ! I know 
what it is ! " 

"What is it?" cried Fred. 

" It's your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge ! " 

Which it certainly was. Admiration was the universal 
sentiment, though some objected that the reply to "Is it a 
bear?" ought to have been "Yes;" inasmuch as an answer 
in the negative was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts 
from Mr. Scrooge, supposing they had ever had any tendency 
that way. 

"He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure," said 
Fred, "and it would be ungrateful not to drink his health. 
Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our hand at the 
moment; and I say, 'Uncle Scrooge!'" 

" Well ! Uncle Scrooge ! " they cried. 

" A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the old 
man, whatever he is ! " said Scrooge's nephew. " He wouldn't 
take it from me, but may he have it, nevertheless. Uncle 
Scrooge ! " 

Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light 
of heart, that he would have pledged the unconscious 
company in return, and thanked them in an inaudible speech, 
if the Ghost had given him time. But the whole scene 
passed off in the breath of the last word spoken by his 
nephew; and he and the Spirit were again upon their travels. 

Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes they 



TWO CHILDREN. 71 

visited, but always with a happy end. The Spirit .stood 
beside sick beds, and they were cheerful ; on foreign lands, 
and they were close at home ; by struggling men, and thev 
were patient in their greater hope ; by poverty, and it was 
rich. In almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery's every 
refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not 
made fast the door, and barred the Spirit out, he left his 
blessing, and taught Scrooge his precepts. 

It was a long night, if it were only a night ; but Scrooge 
had his doubts of this, because the Christmas Holidays ap- 
peared to be condensed into the space of time they passed 
together. It was .strange, too, that while Scrooge remained 
unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly 
older. Scrooge had observed this change, but never spoke of 
it, until they left a children's Twelfth Night party, when, 
looking at the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, 
he noticed that its hair was grey. 

" Are spirits' lives so short ? " asked Scrooge. 

" My life upon this globe, is very brief," replied the Ghost. 
" It ends to-night." 

" To-night ! " cried Scrooge. 

"To-night at midnight. Hark! The time is drawing 
near." 

The chimes were ringing the three quarters past eleven at 
that moment. 

"' Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask," said 
Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe, "but I see 
something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding 
from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw ? " 

" It might be a claw, for the flesh 'there is upon it," was 
the Spirit's sorrowful reply. " Look here." 

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children ; 
wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt 
down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment. 

" Oh, Man ! look here. Look, look, down here ! " exclaimed 
the Ghost. 



72 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowl- 
ing, wolfish ; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where 
graceful youth should have filled their features out, and 
touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled 
hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and 
pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat 
enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No 




change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any 
grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has 
monsters half so horrible and dread. 

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to 
him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but 
the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie 
of such enormous magnitude. 



IGNORANCE AND WANT. 73 

" Spirit ! are they yours ? " Scrooge could say no more. 

"They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking down upon 
them. " And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. 
This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, 
and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for 
on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the 
writing be erased. Deny it 1 " cried the Spirit, stretching out 
its hand towards the city. " Slander those who tell it ye ! 
Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. 
And abide the end ! " 

" Have they no refuge or resource ? " cried Scrooge. 

" Are there no prisons ? " said the Spirit, turning on him 
for the last time with his own words. " Are there no work- 
houses ? " 

The bell struck twelve. 

Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. 
As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the 
prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, 
beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like 
a mist along the ground, towards him. 



jpour. 

THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS. 

THE Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When 
it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee ; for in 
the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to 
scatter gloom and mystery. 

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed 
its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save 
one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been 
difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it 
from the darkness by which it was surrounded. 

He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside 
him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a 
solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither 
spoke nor moved. 

" I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To 
Come?"" said Scrooge. 

The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with its 
hand. 

"You are about to show me shadows of the things that 
have not happened, but will happen in the time before us," 
Scrooge pursued. " Is that so, Spirit ? " 

The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an 
instant in its folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its head. 
That was the only answer he received. 

Although well used to ghostly company by this time, 



IN THE CITY. 75 

Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled 
beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when 
he prepared to follow it. The Spirit paused a moment, as 
observing his condition, and giving him time to recover. 

But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him 
with a vague uncertain horror, to know that behind the 
dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon 
him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, 
could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap 
of black. 

" Ghost of the Future ! " he exclaimed, " I fear you more 
than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose 
is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another 
man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, 
and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak 
to me ? " 

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight 
before them. 

" Lead on ! " said Scrooge. " Lead on ! The night is 
waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead 
on, Spirit ! " 

The Phantom moved away as it had come towards him. 
Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dress, which bore him 
up, he thought, and carried him along. 

They scarcely seemed to enter the city ; for the city rather 
seemed to spring up about them, and encompass them of its 
own act. But there they were, in the heart of it; on 
""Change, amongst the merchants ; who hurried up and down, 
and chinked the money in their pockets, and conversed in 
groups, and looked at their watches, and trifled thoughtfully 
with their great gold seals; and so forth, as Scrooge had 
seen them often. 

The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men. 
Observing that the hand was pointed to them, Scrooge 
advanced to listen to their talk. 

"No," said a great fat man with a monstrous chin, "I 



76 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

don't know much about it, either way. I only know he's 
dead." 

" When did he die ? " inquired another. 

" Last night, I believe." 

"Why, what was the matter with him?" asked a third, 
taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box. 
" I thought he'd never die." 

"God knows," said the first, with a yawn. 

" What has he done with his money ? " asked a red-faced 
gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his 
nose, that shook like the gills of a turkey-cock. 

" I haven't heard," said the man with the large chin, yawn- 
ing again. "Left it to his company, perhaps. He hasn't 
left it to me. That's all I know." 

This pleasantry was received with a general laugh. 

"It's likely to be a very cheap funeral," said the same 
speaker; "for upon my life I don't know of anybody to go 
to it. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer?" 

" I don't mind going if a lunch is provided," observed the 
gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. "But I must 
be fed, if I make one." 

Another laugh. 

" Well, I am the most disinterested among you, after all," 
said the first speaker, " for I never wear black gloves, and I 
never eat lunch. But I'll offer to go, if anybody else will. 
AVhen I come to think of it, I'm not at all sure that I wasn't 
his most particular friend; for we used to stop and speak 
whenever we met. Bye, bye ! " 

Speakers and listeners strolled away, and mixed with other 
groups. Scrooge knew the men, and looked towards the 
Spirit for an explanation. 

The Phantom glided on into a street. Its finger pointed 
to two persons meeting. Scrooge listened again, thinking 
that the explanation might lie here. 

He knew these men, also, perfectly. They were men of busi- 
ness : very wealthy, and of great importance. He had made 



A DEATH HAS OCCURRED. 77 

a point always of standing well in their esteem : in a business 
point of view, that is ; strictly in a business point of view. 

*' How are you ? " said one. 

" How are you ? " returned the other. 

Well ! " said the first. " Old Scratch has got his own at 
last, hey ? " 

"So I am told," returned the second. "Cold, isn't it?" 

"Seasonable for Christmas time. You're not a skater, I 
suppose ? " 

" No. No. Something else to think of. Good morning ! " 

Not another word. That was their meeting, their conversa- 
tion, and their parting. 

Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the Spirit 
should attach importance to conversations apparently so 
trivial ; but feeling assured that they must have some hidden 
purpose, he set himself to consider what it was likely to be. 
They could scarcely be supposed to have any bearing on the 
death of Jacob, his old partner, for that was Past, and this 
Ghost's province was the Future. Nor could he think of any 
one immediately connected with himself, to whom he could 
apply them. But nothing doubting that to whomsoever 
they applied they had some latent moral for his own im- 
provement, he resolved to treasure up every word he heard, 
and everything he saw ; and especially to observe the 
shadow of himself when it appeared. For he had an expec- 
tation that the conduct of his future self would give him 
the clue he missed, and would render the solution of these 
riddles easy. 

He looked about in that very place for his own image ; but 
another man stood in his accustomed corner, and though the 
clock pointed to his usual time of day for being there, he 
saw no likeness of himself among the multitudes that poured 
in through the Porch. It gave him little surprise, however; 
for he had been revolving in his mind a change of life, and 
thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions carried 
out in this. 



78 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phantom, with its 
outstretched hand. When he roused himself from his 
thoughtful quest, he fancied from the turn of the hand, and 
its situation in reference to himself, that the Unseen Eyes 
were looking at him keenly. It made him shudder, and feel 
very cold. 

They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part 
of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated before, 
although he recognised its situation, and its bad repute. The 
ways were foul and narrow ; the shops and houses wretched ; 
the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly. Alleys and 
archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their offences of 
smell, and dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets ; and the 
whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and misery. 

Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low-browed, 
beetling shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags, 
bottles, bones, and greasy offal, were bought. Upon the floor 
within, were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, 
files, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that 
few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in moun- 
tains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepulchres 
of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt in, by a char- 
coal stove, made of old bricks, was a grey-haired rascal, nearly 
seventy years of age ; who had screened himself from the cold 
air without, by a frousy curtaining of miscellaneous tatters, 
hung upon a line ; and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of 
calm retirement. 

Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of this 
man, just as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk into the 
shop. But she had scarcely entered, when another woman, 
similarly laden, came in too ; and she was closely followed by 
a man in faded black, who was no less startled by the sight 
of them, than they had been upon the recognition of each 
other. After a short period of blank astonishment, in which 
the old man with the pipe had joined them, they all three 
burst into a laugh. 



GHOULES. 79 

" Let the charwoman alone to be the first ! " cried she who 
had entered first. " Let the laundress alone to be the second ; 
and let the undertaker's man alone to be the third. Look 
here, old Joe, here's a chance ! If we haven't all three met 
here without meaning it ! " 

"You couldn't have met in a better place, 11 said old Joe, 
removing his pipe from his mouth. " Come into the parlour. 
You were made free of it long ago, you know ; and the other 
two an't strangers. Stop till I shut the door of the shop. 
Ah ! How it skreeks ! There an't such a rusty bit of metal 
in the place as its own hinges, I believe ; and I'm sure there's 
no such old bones here, as mine. Ha, ha ! We're all suit- 
able to our calling, we're well matched. Come into the 
parlour. Come into the parlour." 

The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. The 
old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rod, and 
having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night), with the 
stem of his pipe, put it in his mouth again. 

AVhile he did this, the woman who had already spoken 
threw her bundle on the floor, and sat down in a flaunting 
manner on a stool ; crossing her elbows on her knees, and 
looking with a bold defiance at the other two. 

"What odds then! What odds, Mrs. Dilber?" said the 
woman. "Every person has a right to take care of them- 
selves. He always did." 

" That's true, indeed ! " said the laundress. ** No man 
more so." 

"Why then, don't stand staring as if you was afraid, 
woman ; who's the wiser ? We're not going to pick holes in 
each other's coats, I suppose?" , 

"No, indeed!" said Mrs. Dilber and the man together. 
" We should hope not." 

" Very well, then ! " cried the woman. " That's enough. 
Who's the worse for the loss of a few things like these? 
Not a dead man, I suppose." 

"No, indeed," said Mrs. Dilber, laughing. 



80 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

" If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead, a wicked old 
screw,'" pursued the woman, "why wasn't he natural in his 
lifetime ? If he had been, he'd have had somebody to look 
after him when he was struck with Death, instead of lying 
gasping out his last there, alone by himself." 

"It's the truest word that ever was spoke," said Mrs. 
Dilber. " It's a judgment on him." 

"I wish it was a little heavier judgment," replied the 
woman ; " and it should have been, you may depend upon it, 
if I could have laid my hands on anything else. Open that 
bundle, old Joe, and let me know the value of it. Speak out 
plain. I'm not afraid to be the first, nor afraid for them to 
see it. We knew pretty well that we were helping ourselves, 
before we met here, I believe. It's no sin. Open the bundle, 
Joe." 

But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this ; 

o 

and the man in faded black, mounting the breach first, 
produced Ms plunder. It was not extensive. A seal or two, 
a pencil-case, a pair of sleeve-buttons, and a brooch of no 
great value, were all. They were severally examined and 
appraised by old Joe, who chalked the sums he Avas disposed 
to give for each, upon the wall, and added them up into a 
total when he found there was nothing more to come. 

"That's your account," said Joe, "and I wouldn't give 
another sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not doing it. 
Who's next ? " 

Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little wearing 
apparel, two old-fashioned silver teaspoons, a pair of sugar- 
tongs, and a few boots. Her account was stated on the wall 
in the same manner. 

" I always give too much to ladies. It's a weakness of mine, 
and that's the way I ruin myself," said old Joe. "That's 
your account. If you asked me for another penny, and made 
it an open question, I'd repent of being so liberal and knock 
off half-a-crown." 

" And now undo my bundle, Joe," said the first woman. 



GLOATING OVER THE SPOIL. 81 

Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience 
of opening it, and having unfastened a great many knots, 
(1 ragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff. 

" What do you call this ? " said Joe. " Bed-curtains ! " 

" Ah ! " returned the woman, laughing and leaning forward 
on her crossed arms. " Bed-curtains ! " 

" You don't mean to say you took 'em down, rings and 
all, with him lying there?" said Joe. 

" Yes I do," replied the woman. " Why not ? " 

"You were born to make your fortune," said Joe, "and 
you'll certainly do it." 

" I certainly shan't hold my hand, when I can get anything 
in it by reaching it out, for the sake of such a man as He 
was, I promise you, Joe," returned the woman coolly. " Don't 
drop that oil upon the blankets, now." 

" His blankets ? " asked Joe. 

" Whose else's do you think ? " replied the woman. " He 
isn't likely to take cold without 'em, I dare say." 

" I hope he didn't die of anything catching ? Eh ? " said 
old Joe, stopping in his work, and looking up. 

"Don't you be afraid of that," returned the woman. "I 
an't so fond of his company that I'd loiter about him for 
such things, if he did. Ah ! you may look through that 
'shirt till your eyes ache ; but you won't find a hole in it, nor 
a threadbare place. It's the best he had, and a fine one too. 
They'd have wasted it, if it hadn't been for me." 

" What do you call wasting of it ? " asked old Joe. 

"Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure," replied 
the woman with a laugh. "Somebody was fool enough to 
do it, but I took it off again. If calico ,an't good enough for 
such a purpose, it isn't good enough for anything. It's quite 
as becoming to the body. He can't look uglier than he did 
in that one." 

Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. As they sat 
grouped about their spoil, in the scanty light afforded by 
the old man's lamp, he viewed them with a detestation and 

G 



82 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

disgust, which could hardly have been greater, though they 
had been obscene demons, marketing the corpse itself. 

" Ha, ha ! " laughed the same woman, when old Joe, 
producing a flannel bag with money in it, told out their 
several gains upon the ground. " This is the end of it, you 
see ! He frightened every one away from him when he was 
alive, to profit us when he was dead ! Ha, ha, ha ! " 

" Spirit ! " said Scrooge, shuddering from head to foot. " I 
see, I see. The case of this unhappy man might be my own. 
My life tends that way, now. Merciful Heaven, what is 
this ! " 

He recoiled in terror, for the scene had changed, and now 
he almost touched a bed : a bare, uncurtained bed : on Avhich, 
beneath a ragged sheet, there lay a something covered up, 
which, though it was dumb, announced itself in awful 
language. 

The room was very dark, too dark to be observed with 
any accuracy, though Scrooge glanced round it in obedience 
to a secret impulse, anxious to know what kind of room it 
Avas. A pale light, rising in the outer air, fell straight upon 
the bed ; and on it, plundered and bereft, unwatched, unwept, 
uncared for, was the body of this man. 

Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady hand 
was pointed to the head. The cover was so carelessly adjusted 
that the slightest raising of it, the motion of a finger upon 
Scrooges part, would have disclosed the face. He thought 
of it, felt how easy it would be to do, and longed to do it ; 
but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss 
the spectre at his side. 

Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine altar 
here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy 
command: for this is thy dominion! But of the loved, 
revered, and honoured head, thou canst not turn one hair 
to thy dread purposes, or make one feature odious. It is 
not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released ; 
it is not that the heart and pulse are still; but that the 



THE DEAD MAN. 8,<5 

hand WAS open, generous, and true; the heart brave, warm. 
and tender ; and the pulse a man's. Strike, Shadow, strike ! 
And see his good deeds springing from the wound, to sow 
the world with life immortal ! 

No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's ears, and 
yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed. He 
thought, if this man could be raised up now, what would be 
his foremost thoughts ? Avarice, hard-dealing, griping cares ? 
They have brought him to a rich end, truly ! 

He lay, in the dark empty house, with not a man, a 
woman, or a child, to say that he was kind to me in this 
or that, and for the memory of one kind word I will be 
kind to him. A cat was tearing at the door, and there was 
a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. What 
they wanted in the room of death, and why they were so 
restless and disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to think. 

" Spirit ! " he said, " this is a fearful place. In leaving it, 
I shall not leave its lesson, trust me. Let us go ! " 

Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the 
head. 

" I understand you," Scrooge returned, " and I would do 
it, if I could. But I have not the power, Spirit. I have 
not the power."" 

Again it seemed to look upon him. 

"If there is any person in the town, who feels emotion 
caused by this man's death," said Scrooge quite agonised, 
*' show that person to me, Spirit, I beseech you ! " 

The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a 
moment, like a wing; and withdrawing it, revealed a room 
by daylight, where a mother and her children were. 

She was expecting some one, and with anxious eagerness ; 
for she walked up and down the room ; started at every 
sound ; looked out from the window ; glanced at the clock ; 
tried, but in vain, to work with her needle ; and could hardly 
bear the voices of the children in their play. 

At length the long-expected knock was heard. She hurried 



84 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

to the door, and met her husband ; a man whose face was 
careworn and depressed, though he was young. There was 
a remarkable expression in it now ; a kind of serious delight 
of which he felt ashamed, and which he struggled to repress. 

He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding for 
him by the fire ; and when she asked him faintly what news 
(which was not until after a long silence), he appeared em- 
barrassed how to answer. 

" Is it good ? " she said, " or bad ? " to help him. 

"Bad," he answered. 

"We are quite ruined?" 

" No. There is hope yet, Caroline." 

" If he relents," she said, amazed, " there is ! Nothing is 
past hope, if such a miracle has happened." 

" He is past relenting," said her husband. " He is dead." 

She was a mild and patient creature if her face spoke 
truth; but she was thankful in her soul to hear it, and she 
said so, with clasped hands. She prayed forgiveness the next 
moment, and was sorry ; but the first was the emotion of 
her heart. 

"What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last 
night, said to me, when I tried to see him and obtain a 
week's delay ; and what I thought was a mere excuse to avoid 
me; turns out to have been quite true. He was not only 
very ill, but dying, then." 

" To whom will our debt be transferred ? " 

" I don't know. But before that time we shall be ready 
with the money; and even though we were not, it would be 
a bad fortune indeed to find so merciless a creditor in his 
successor. We may sleep to-night with light hearts, Caroline!" 

Yes. Soften it as they would, their hearts were lighter. 
The children's faces, hushed and clustered round to hear what 
they so little understood, were brighter ; and it was a happier 
house for this man's death! The only emotion that the 
Ghost could show him, caused by the event, was one of 
pleasure. 



POOR TINY TIM ! 85 

" Let me see some tenderness connected with a death," said 
Scrooge ; " or that dark chamber, Spirit, which we left just 
now, will be for ever present to me." 

The Ghost conducted him through several streets familiar 
to his feet ; and as they went along, Scrooge looked here and 
there to find himself, but nowhere was he to be seen. They 
entered poor Bob Crate-hit's house ; the dwelling he had 
visited before ; and found the mother and the children seated 
round the fire. 

Quiet. Very quiet. The noisy little Cratchits were as 
still as statues in one corner, and sat looking up at Peter, 
who had a book before him. The mother and her daughters 
were engaged in sewing. But surely they were very quiet ! 

"'And He took a child, and set him in the midst of 
them. 1 " 

Where had Scrooge heard those words ? He had not 
dreamed them. The boy must have read them out, as he 
and the Spirit crossed the threshold. Why did he not 
go on? 

The mother laid her work upon the table, and put her 
hand up to her face. 

"The colour hurts my eyes," she said. 

The colour ? Ah, poor Tiny Tim ! 

" They're better now again," said Cratchifs wife. " It 
makes them weak by candle-light ; and I wouldn't show weak 
eyes to your father when he comes home, for the world. It 
must be near his time." 

" Past it rather," Peter answered, shutting up his book. 
"But I think he has walked a little slower than he used, 
these few last evenings, mother." 

They were very quiet again. At last she said, and in a 
steady, cheerful voice, that only faltered once : 

" I have known him walk with I have known him walk 
with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder, very fast indeed." 

" And so have I," cried Peter. " Often." 

"And so have I," exclaimed another. So had all. 



86 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

" But he was very light to carry," she resumed, intent upon 
her work, "and his father loved him so, that it was no 
trouble: no trouble. And there is your father at the 

door ! " 

She hurried out to meet him ; and little Bob in his com- 
forterhe had need of it, poor fello\v came in. His tea 
was ready for him on the hob, and they all tried who should 
help him to it most. Then the two young Cratchits got 
upon his knees and laid, each child a little cheek, against 
his face, as if they said, " Don't mind it, father. Doivt be 
grieved ! " 

Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke pleasantly to 
all the family. He looked at the work upon the table, and 
praised the industry and speed of Mrs. Cratchit and the girls. 
They would be done long before Sunday, he said. 

"Sunday! You went to-day, then, Robert?'" said his 
wife. 

" Yes, my dear," returned Bob. " I wish you could have 
gone. It would have done you good to see how green a 
place it is. But you'll see it often. I promised him that I 
would walk there on a Sunday. My little, little child!'' 
cried Bob. " My little child ! " 

He broke down all at once. He couldn't help it. If he 
could have helped it, he and his child would have been farther 
apart perhaps than they were. 

He left the room, and went up-stairs into the room above, 
which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with Christina*. 
There was a chair set close beside the child, and there were 
signs of some one having been there, lately. Poor Bob sat 
down in it, and when he had thought a little and composed 
himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what 
had happened, and went down again quite happy. 

They drew about the lire, and talked ; the girls and mother 
working still. Bob told them of the extraordinary kindness 
of Mr. Scrooge's nephew, whom he had scarcely seen but 
once, and who, meeting him in the street that day, and seeing 



TRUE SYMPATHY. 87 

that he looked a little "just a little down you know," said 
Bob, inquired what had happened to distress him. "On 
which," said Bob, " for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman 
you ever heard, I told him. ' I am heartily sorry for it, Mr. 
Cratchit, 1 he said, 'and heartily sorry for your good wife.' 
By the bye, how he ever knew that, I don't know." 

" Knew what, my dear ? " 

" Why, that you were a good wife," replied Bob. 

" Everybody knows that ! " said Peter. 

" Very well observed, my boy ! " cried Bob. " I hope they 
do. ' Heartily sorry, 1 he said, ' for your good wife. If I 
can be of service to you in any way, 1 he said, giving me 
his card, 'that's where I live. Pray come to me. 1 Now, it 
wasn't," cried Bob, "for the sake of anything he might be 
able to do for us, so much as for his kind way, that this was 
quite delightful. It really seemed as if he had known our 
Tiny Tim, and felt with us." 

" I'm sure he's a good soul ! " said Mi's. Cratchit. 

"You would be surer of it, my dear," returned Bob, "if 
you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn't be at all surprised 
mark what I say ! if he got Peter a better situation." 

" Only hear that, Peter," said Mrs. Cratchit. 

" And then," cried one of the girls, " Peter will be keeping 
company with some one, and setting up for himself." 

" Get along with you ! " retorted Peter, grinning. 

" It's just as likely as not," said Bob, " one of these days ; 
though there's plenty of time for that, my dear. But how- 
ever and whenever we part from one another, I am sure we 
shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim shall we or this 
first parting that there was among us? 

" Never, father ! " cried they all. 

" And I know," said Bob, " I know, my dears, that when 
we recollect how patient and how mild he was ; although he 
was a little, little child ; we shall not quarrel easily among 
ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it." 

"No, never, father!" they all cried again. 



88 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

" I am very happy, 1 ' said little Bob, " I am very happy ! " 

Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the 
two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself shook 
hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from 
God. r 

" Spectre," said Scrooge, " something informs me that our 
parting moment is at hand. I know it, but I know not 
how. Tell me what man that was whom we saw lying dead ? " 

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him, as 
before though at a different time, he thought : indeed, there 
seemed no order in these latter visions, save that they were 
in the Future into the resorts of business men, but showed 
him not himself. Indeed, the Spirit did not stay for any- 
thing, but went straight on, as to the end just now desired, 
until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment. 

" This court," said Scrooge, " through which we hurry now, 
is where my place of occupation is, and has been for a length 
of time. I see the house. Let me behold what I shall be, 
in days to come ! " 

The Spirit stopped ; the hand was pointed elsewhere. 

" The house is yonder," Scrooge exclaimed. " Why do you 
point away?" 

The inexorable finger underwent no change. 

Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and looked 
in. It was an office still, but not his. The furniture was 
not the same, and the figure in the chair was not himself. 
The Phantom pointed as before. 

He joined it once again, and wondering why and whither 
he had gone, accompanied it until they reached an iron gate. 
He paused to look round before entering. 

A churchyard. Here, then, the wretched man whose name 
he had now to learn, lay underneath the ground. It was a 
worthy place. Walled in by houses ; overrun by grass and 
weeds, the growth of vegetation's death, not life ; choked up 
with too much burying; fat with repleted appetite. A 
worthy place ! 



THE NAME OF THE DEAD MAN. 89 

The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to 
One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was 
exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new 
meaning in its solemn shape. 

"Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point," 
said Scrooge, " answer me one question. Are these the 
shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of 
things that May be, only ? " 

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which 
it stood. 

" Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if 
persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. " But if the 
courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is 
thus with what you show me ! " 

The Spirit was immovable as ever. 

Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and 
following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected 
grave his own name, EBENEZEK SCROOGE. 

" Am / that man who lay upon the bed ? " he cried, upon 
his knees. 

The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again. 

" No, Spirit ! Oh no, no ! " 

The finger still was there. 

" Spirit ! " he cried, tight clutching at its robe, " hear me ! 
I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must 
have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I 
am past all hope ! " 

For the first time the hand appeared to shake. 

" Good Spirit," he pursued, as down, upon the ground he 
fell before it : " Your nature intercedes for me, and pities 
me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you 
have shown me, by an altered life ! " 

The kind hand trembled. 

" I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it 
all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the 
Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I 



90 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I 
may sponge away the writing on this stone ! " 

In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to 
free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it. 
The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him. 

Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate re- 
versed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress. 
It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost. 



&tabc jflbe. 

THE END OF IT. 

YES ! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, 
the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time 
before him was his own, to make amends in! 

" I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future ! " 
Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. " The Spirits 
of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley ! 
Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this ! I say 
it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees ! " 

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good in- 
tentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his 
call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the 
Spirit, and his face was wet with tears. 

" They are not torn down, 11 cried Scrooge, folding one of 
his bed-curtains in his arms, " they are not torn down, rings 
and all. They are here I am here the shadows of the 
things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will 
be. I know they will ! " , 

His hands were busy with his garments all this time ; 
turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, 
tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every 
kind of extravagance. 

" I don't know what to do ! " cried Scrooge, laughing and 
crying in the same breath ; and making a perfect Laocoon of 
himself with his stockings. " I am as light as a feather, I 



92 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I 
am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to 
everybody! A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo 
here ! Whoop ! Hallo ! " 

He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was now standing 
there : perfectly winded. 

" There's the saucepan that the gruel was in ! " cried 
Scrooge, starting off again, and going round the fireplace. 
"There's the door, by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley 
entered ! There's the corner where the Ghost of Christmas 
Present, sat ! There's the window where I saw the wander- 
ing Spirits ! It's all right, it's all true, it all happened. 
Ha ha ha ! " 

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so 
many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. 
The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs ! 

" I don't know what day of the month it is ! " said 
Scrooge. "I don't know how long I've been among the 
Spirits. I don't know anything. I'm quite a baby. Never 
mind. I don't care. I'd rather be a baby. Hallo ! Whoop ! 
Hallo here ! " 

He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing 
out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang, 
hammer ; ding, dong, bell. Bell, dong, ding ; hammer, clang, 
clash ! Oh, glorious, glorious ! 

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his 
head. No fog, no mist ; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold ; 
cold, piping for the blood to dance to ; Golden sunlight ; 
Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! 
Glorious ! 

" What's to-day ! " cried Scrooge, calling downward to a 
boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look 
about him. 

" EH ? " returned the boy, with all his might of wonder. 

" What's to-day, my fine fellow ? " said Scrooge. 

"To-day ! " replied the boy. " Why, CHRISTMAS DAY." 



A DELIGHTFUL BOY. 93 

" It's Christmas Day ! " said Scrooge to himself. " I 
haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. 
They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of 
course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow ! " 

" Hallo *!" returned the boy. 

" Do you know the Poulterer's, in the next street but one, 
at the corner ? " Scrooge inquired. 

" I should hope I did," replied the lad. 

" An intelligent boy ! " said Scrooge. " A remarkable boy ! 
Do you know whether they've sold the prize Turkey that 
was hanging up there ? Not the little prize Turkey : the 
big one ? " 

" What, the one as big as me ? " returned the boy. 

" What a delightful boy ! " said Scrooge. " It's a pleasure 
to talk to him. Yes, my buck ! " 

"It's hanging there now," replied the boy. 

" Is it ?" said Scrooge. " Go and buy if 

" Walk-ER ! " exclaimed the boy. 

" No, no," said Scrooge, " I am in earnest. Go and buy 
it, and tell 'em to bring it here, that I may give them the 
direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and 
I'll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than 
five minutes and I'll give you half-a-crown ! " 

The boy was oft' like a shot. He must have had a steady 
hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast. 

" I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's ! " whispered Scrooge, 
rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. " He sha'n't 
know who sends it. It's twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe 
Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob's 
will be ! " , 

The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady 
one, but write it he did, somehow, and went down-stairs to 
open the street door, ready for the coming of the poulterer's 
man. As he stood there, waiting his arrival, the knocker 
caught his eye. 

" I shall love it, as long as I live ! " cried Scrooge, patting 



94 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

it with his hand. "I scarcely ever looked at it before. 
What an honest expression it has in its face! It's a 
wonderful knocker ! Here's the Turkey. Hallo! Whoop! 
How are you ! Merry Christmas ! " 

It was a Turkey! He never could have stood upon his 
legs, that bird. He would have snapped 'em short off' in a 
minute, like sticks of sealing-wax. 

"Why, it's impossible to carry that to Camden Town, 1 ' 
said Scrooge. "You must have a cab." 

The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with 
which he paid for the Turkey, and the chuckle with which 
he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recom- 
pensed the boy, were only to be exceeded by the chuckle 
with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and 
chuckled till he cried. 

Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued to 
shake very much ; and shaving requires attention, even when 
you don't dance while you are at it. But if he had cut the 
end of his nose off, he would have put a piece of sticking- 
plaister over it, and been quite satisfied. 

He dressed himself "all in his best," and at last got out 
into the streets. The people were by this time pouring forth, 
as he had seen them with the Ghost of Christmas Present ; 
and walking with his hands behind him, Scrooge regarded 
every one with a delighted smile. He looked so irresistibly 
pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-humoured fellows 
said, "Good morning, sir! A merry Christmas to you!" 
And Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all the blithe 
sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest in his ears. 

He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he 
beheld the portly gentleman, who had walked into his count- 
ing-house the day before, and said, " Scrooge and Marley's, I 
believe ? " It sent a pang across his heart to think how this 
old gentleman would look upon him when they met; but he 
knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it. 

"My dear sir," said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and 



SCROOGE VISITS HIS NEPHEW. 95 

taking the old gentleman by both his hands. " How do you 
do ? I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of 
you. A merry Christmas to you, sir ! " 

" Mr. Scrooge ? " 

"Yes,"" said Scrooge. "That is my name, and I fear it 
may not be pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your pardon. 
And will you have the goodness " here Scrooge whispered in 
his ear. 

" Lord bless me ! " cried the gentleman, as if his breath 
were taken away. " My dear Mr. Scrooge, are you serious ? " 

"If you please," said Scrooge. "Not a farthing less. A 
great many back-payments are included in it, I assure you. 
Will you do me that favour?" 

" My dear sir,* 1 said the other, shaking hands with him. 
"I don't know what to -say to such munifi " 

"Don't say anything, please,"" retorted Scrooge. "Come 
and see me. Will you come and see me ? " 

" I will ! " cried the old gentleman. And it was clear he 
meant to do it. 

" Thank'ee," said Scrooge. "I am much obliged to you. 
I thank you fifty times. Bless you ! " 

He went to church, and walked about the streets, and 
watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children 
on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into 
the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found 
that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never 
dreamed that any walk that anything could give him so 
much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps 
towards his nephew's house. 

He passed the door a dozen times^ before he had the 
courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash, and 
did it : 

" Is your master at home, my dear ? " said Scrooge to the 
girl. Nice girl ! Very. 

" Yes, sir." 

" Where is he, my love ? " said Scrooge. 



96 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

"He's in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress. Ill 
show you up-stairs, if you please. 11 

"Thank'ee. He knows me, 11 said Scrooge, with his hand 
already on the dining-room lock. " I'll go in here, my dear. 11 

He turned it gently, and sidled his face in, round the door. 
They were looking at the table (which was spread out in 
great array) ; for these young housekeepers are always nervous 
on such points, and like to see that everything is right. 

" Fred ! " said Scrooge. 

Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started ! 
Scrooge had forgotten, for the moment, about her sitting 
in the corner with the footstool, or he wouldn't have done 
it, on any account. 

" Why bless my soul ! " cried Fred, " who's that ? " 

"It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. 
Will you let me in, Fred?" 

Let him in ! It is a mercy he didn't shake his arm off. 
He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier. 
His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when he 
came. So did the plump sister when she came. So did 
every one when they came. Wonderful party, wonderful 
games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness ! 

But he was early at the office next morning. Oh, he was 
early there. If he could only be there first, and catch Bob 
Cratchit coming late! That was the thing he had set his 
heart upon. 

And he did it ; yes, he did ! The clock struck nine. No 
Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full eighteen 
minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his 
door wide open, that he might see him come into the Tank. 

His hat was off, before he opened the door; his comforter 
too. He was on his stool in a jifFy; driving away with his 
pen, as if he were trying to overtake nine o'clock. 

"Hallo!" growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice, as 
near as he could feign it. " What do you mean by coming 
here at this time of day ? " 



SCROOGE RECLAIMED BY CHRISTMAS. 97 

" I am very sorry, sir," said Bob. " I am behind my time." 

" You are ? " repeated. Scrooge. " Yes. I think you are. 
Step this way, sir, if you please." 1 " 

" It's only once a year, sir," pleaded Bob, appearing from 
the Tank. " It shall not be repeated. I was making rather 
merry yesterday, sir." 

" Now, Fll tell you what, my friend," said Scrooge, " I 
am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And 
therefore," he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving 
Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into 
the Tank again ; " and therefore I am about to raise your 
salary ! " 

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He 
had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, 
holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help 
ami a strait-waistcoat. 

" A merry Christmas, Bob ! " said Scrooge, with an earnest- 
ness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the 
back. " A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I 
have given you for many a year ! I'll raise your salary, and 
endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss 
your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of 
smoking bishop, Bob ! Make up the fires, and buy another 
coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit ! " 

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and 
infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was 
a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a 
master, and as good a man, as the goocj old city knew, or 
any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old 
world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, 
but he let them laugh, and little heeded them ; for he was 
wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this 
globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill 
of laughter in the outset ; and knowing that such as these 
would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they 

H 



ILLUSTKATIONS. 



THE TOWER OF THE CHIMES 

THE SPIRIT OF THE CHIMES 

THE DINNER ON THE STEPS 

TROTTY VECK 

ALDERMAN CUTE AND HIS FRIENDS 

TROTTY AT HOME 

SIR JOSEPH ROWLEY'S 

THE OLD CHURCH 

TROTTY VECK AMONG THE BELLS 

WILL FERN'S COTTAGE 

RICHARD AND MARGARET . 

MARGARET AND HER CHILD 

THE NEW YEAR'S DANCE . 



Engraver. 


Artitt. 


PAGE 


Becker. 


D. MACLISE, R.A. 




Becker. 


D. MACLISE, R.A. 




Groves. 


R. DOYLE 


103 


Linton. 


J. LEECH 


108 


Linton. 


J. LEECH 


122 


Linlon. 


R. DOYLE 


130 


Linton. 


J. LEECH 


134 


Gray. 


C. STANFIELD, R.A. 


152 


Linton. 


R. DOYLE 


154 


Gray. 


C. STANFIELD, R.A. 


169 


Linton. 


J. LEECH 


172 


Dalziel. 


R. DOYLE 


178 


Linton. 


J. LEECH . . 


199 






THE CHIMES. 




HERE are not many people and as 
it is desirable that a story-teller and 
a story-reader should establish a 
mutual understanding as soon as 
possible, I beg it to be noticed that 
I confine this observation neither 
to young people nor to little people, 
but extend it to all conditions of 
people : little and big, young and 
old : yet growing up, or already 
growing down again there are not, 
I say, many people who would care 
to sleep in a church. I don't mean 
at sermon-time in warm weather 



104 THE CHIMES. 

(when the thing has actually been done, once or twice), but 
in the night, and alone. A great multitude of persons will 
be violently astonished, I know, by this position, in the 
broad bold Day. But it applies to Night. It must be 
argued by night, and I will undertake to maintain it success- 
fully on any gusty winter's night appointed for the purpose, 
with any one opponent chosen from the rest, who will meet 
me singly in an old churchyard, before an old church-door; 
and will previously empower me to lock him in, if needful 
to his satisfaction, until morning. 

For the night-wind has a dismal trick of wandering round 
and round a building of that sort, and moaning as it goes ; 
and of trying, with its unseen hand, the windows and the 
doors; and seeking out some crevices by which to enter. 
And when it has got in; as one not finding what it seeks, 
whatever that may be, it wails and howls to issue forth 
again : and not content with stalking through the aisles, and 
gliding round and round the pillars, and tempting the deep 
organ, soars up to the roof, and strives to rend the rafters : 
then flings itself despairingly upon the stones below, and 
passes, muttering, into the vaults. Anon, it comes up 
stealthily, and creeps along the Avails, seeming to read, in 
whispers, the Inscriptions sacred to the Dead. At some of 
these, it breaks out shrilly, as with laughter; and at others, 
moans and cries as if it were lamenting. It has a ghostly 
sound too, lingering within the altar; where it seems to 
chaunt, in its wild way, of Wrong and Murder done, and 
false Gods worshipped, in defiance of the Tables of the Law, 
which look so fair and smooth, but are so flawed and broken. 
Ugh! Heaven preserve us, sitting snugly round the fire! 
It has an awful voice, that wind at Midnight, singing in 
a church ! 

But, high up in the steeple! There the foul blast roars 
and whistles! High up in the steeple, where it is free to 
come and go through many an airy arch and loophole, and 
to twist and twine itself about the giddy stair, and twirl the 



HIGH UP IN THE STEEPLE. 105 

groaning weathercock, and make the very tower shake and 
shiver! High up in the steeple, where the belfry is, and 
iron rails are ragged with rust, and sheets of lead and copper, 
shrivelled by the changing weather, crackle and heave beneath 
the unaccustomed tread ; and birds stuff' shabby nests into 
corners of old oaken joists and beams; and dust grows old 
and grey; and speckled spiders, indolent and fat with long 
security, swing idly to and fro in the vibration of the bells, 
and never loose their hold upon their thread-spun castles in 
the air, or climb up sailor-like in quick alarm, or drop upon 
the ground and ply a score of nimble legs to save one life ! 
High up in the steeple of an old church, far above the light 
and murmur of the town and far below the flying clouds 
that shadow it, is the wild and dreary place at night : and 
high up in the steeple of an old church, dwelt the Chimes 
I tell of. 

They were old Chimes, trust me. Centuries ago, these 
Bells had been baptized by bishops : so many centuries ago, 
that the register of their baptism was lost long, long before 
the memory of man, and no one knew their names. They 
had had their Godfathers and Godmothers, these Bells (for 
my own part, by the way, I would rather incur the responsi- 
bility of being Godfather to a Bell than a Boy), and had 
their silver mugs no doubt, besides. But Time had mowed 
down their sponsors, and Henry the Eighth had melted down 
their mugs ; and they now hung, nameless and mugless, in 
the church-tower. 

Not speechless, though. Far from it. They had clear, 
loud, lusty, sounding voices, had these' Bells ; and far and 
wide they might be heard upon the wind. Much too sturdy 
Chimes were they, to be dependent on the pleasure of the 
wind, moreover; for, fighting gallantly against it when it 
took an adverse whim, they would pour their cheerful notes 
into a listening ear light royally ; and bent on being heard 
on stormy nights, by some poor mother watching a sick child, 
or some lone wife whose husband was at sea, thev had been 



10 6 THE CHIMES. 

sometimes known to beat a blustering Nor 1 Wester; aye, 
" all to fits, 11 as Toby Veck said ; for though they chose to 
call him Trotty Veck, his name was Toby, and nobody could 
make it anything else either (except Tobias) without a special 
act of parliament ; he having been as lawfully christened in 
his day as the Bells had been in theirs, though with not 
quite so much of solemnity or public rejoicing. 

For my part, I confess myself of Toby Veck's belief, for I 
am sure* he had opportunities enough of forming a correct 
one. And whatever Toby Veck said, I say. And I take my 
stand by Toby Veck, although he did stand all day long 
(and weary work it was) just outside the church-door. In 
fact he was a ticket-porter, Toby Veck, and waited there for 
jobs. 

And a breezy, goose-skinned, blue-nosed, red-eyed, stony- 
toed, tooth-chattering place it was, to wait in, in the winter- 
time, as Toby Veck well knew. The wind came tearing 
round the corner especially the east wind as if it had 
sallied forth, express, from the confines of the earth, to have 
a blow at Toby. And oftentimes it seemed to come upon 
him sooner than it had expected, for bouncing round the 
corner, and passing Toby, it would suddenly wheel round 
again, as if it cried "Why, here he is!" Incontinently his 
little white apron would be caught up over his head like a 
naughty boy's garments, and his feeble little cane would be 
seen to wrestle and straggle unavailingly in his hand, and 
his legs would undergo tremendous agitation, and Toby him- 
self all aslant, and facing now in this direction, now in that, 
would be so banged and buffeted, and touzled, and worried, 
and hustled, and lifted off his feet, as to render it a state of 
things but one degree removed from a positive miracle, that 
he wasn't carried up bodily into the air as a colony of frogs 
or snails or other very portable creatures sometimes are, and 
rained down again, to the great astonishment of the natives, 
on some strange corner of the world where ticket-porters are 
unknown. 



TKOTTY VECK. 107 

But, windy weather, in spite of its using him so roughly, 
was, after all, a sort of holiday for Toby. That's the fact. 
He didn't seem to wait so long for a sixpence in the wind, 
as at other times; the having to fight with that boisterous 
element took off* his attention, and quite freshened him up, 
when he was getting hungry and low-spirited. A hard frost 
too, or a fall of snow, was an Event ; and it seemed to do 
him good, somehow or other it would have been hard to 
say in what respect though, Toby ! So wind and frost and 
snow, and perhaps a good stiff' storm of hail, were Toby 
Veek's red-letter days. 

Wet weather was the worst; the cold, damp, clammy wet, 
that wrapped him up like a moist great-coat the only kind 
of great-coat Toby owned, or could have added to his 
comfort by dispensing with. Wet days, when the rain came 
slowly, thickly, obstinately down ; when the street's throat, 
like his own, was choked with mist; when smoking umbrellas 
passed and re-passed, spinning round and round like so manv 
teetotums, as they knocked against each other on the crowded 
footway, throwing off' a little whirlpool of uncomfortable 
sprinklings ; when gutters brawled and waterspouts were full 
and noisy ; when the wet from the projecting stones and 
ledges of the church fell drip, drip, drip, on Toby, making 
the wisp of straw on which he stood mere mud in no time; 
those were the days that tried him. Then, indeed, you 
might see Toby looking anxiously out from his shelter in 
an angle of the church wall such a meagre shelter that in 
summer time it never cast a shadow thicker than a good- 
sized walking stick upon the sunny pavement with a dis- 
consolate and lengthened face. But coming out, a minute 
afterwards, to warm himself by exercise, and trotting up and 
down some dozen times, he would brighten even then, and 
go back more brightly to his niche. 

They called him Trotty from his pace, which meant speed 
if it didn't make it. He could have Walked faster perhaps ; 
most likelv ; but rob him of his trot, and Tobv would have 



108 



THE CHIMES. 



taken to his bed and died. It bespattered him with mud 
in dirty weather ; it cost him a world of trouble ; he could 
have walked with infinitely greater ease ; but that was one 
reason for his clinging to it so tenaciously. A weak, small, 
spare old man, he was a very Hercules, this Toby, in his 




good intentions. He loved to earn his money. He delighted 
to believe Toby was very poor, and couldn't well afford to 
part with a delight that he was worth his salt. AVith a 
shilling or an eighteenpenny message or small parcel in hand, 
his courage always high, rose higher. As he trotted on, he 
would call out to fast Postmen ahead of him, to get out of 



TROTTV'S LIFE. 109 

the way; devoutly believing that in the natural course of 
things he must inevitably overtake and run them down ; and 
lie had perfect faith not often tested in his being able to 
carry anything that man could lift. 

Thus, even when he came out of his nook to warm himself 
on a wet day, Toby trotted. Making, with his leaky shoes, 
a crooked line of slushy footprints in the mire ; and blowing 
on his chilly hands and rubbing them against each other, 
poorly defended from the searching cold by threadbare 
mufflers of grey worsted, with a private apartment only for 
the thumb, and a common room or tap for the rest of the 
lingers ; Toby, with his knees bent and his cane beneath his 
arm, still trotted. Falling out into the road to look up at 
the belfry when the Chimes resounded, Toby trotted still. 

He made this last excursion several times a day, for they 
were company to him ; and when he heard their voices, he 
had an interest in glancing at their lodging-place, and 
thinking how they were moved, and what hammers beat upon 
them. Perhaps he was the more curious about these Bells, 
because there were points of resemblance between themselves 
and him. They hung there, in all weathers, with the wind 
and rain driving in upon them ; facing only the outsides of 
all those houses ; never getting any nearer to the blazing fires 
that gleamed and shone upon the windows, or came puffing 
out of the chimney tops ; and incapable of participation in 
any of the good things that were constantly being handed, 
through the street doors and the area railings, to prodigious 
cooks. Faces came and went at many windows : sometimes 
pretty faces, youthful faces, pleasant , faces : sometimes the 
reverse : but Toby knew no more (though he often speculated 
on these trifles, standing idle in the streets) whence they 
came, or where they went, or whether, when the lips moved, 
one kind word was said of him in all the year, than did the 
Chimes themselves. 

Toby was not a casuist that he knew of, at least and 
I don't mean to say that when he began to take to the Bells, 



110 THE CHIMES. 

and to knit up his first rough acquaintance with them into 
something of a closer and more delicate woof, he passed 
through these considerations one by one, or held any formal 
review or great field-day in his thoughts. But what I mean 
to say, and do say is, that as the functions of Toby's body, 
his digestive organs for example, did of their own cunning, 
and by a great many operations of which he was altogether 
ignorant, and the knowledge of which would have astonished 
him very much, arrive at a certain end ; so his mental faculties, 
without his privity or concurrence, set all these wheels and 
springs in motion, with a thousand others, when they worked 
to bring about his liking for the Bells. 

And though I had said his love, I would not have re- 
called the word, though it would scarcely have expressed 
his complicated feeling. For, being but a simple man, he 
invested them with a strange and solemn character. They 
were so mysterious, often heard and never seen ; so high up, 
so far off, so full of such a deep strong melody, that he 
regarded them with a species of awe; and sometimes when 
he looked up at the dark arched windows in the tower, he 
half expected to be beckoned to by something which was not 
a Bell, and yet was what he had heard so often sounding in 
the Chimes. For all this, Toby scouted with indignation a 
certain flying rumour that the Chimes were haunted, as im- 
plying the possibility of their being connected with any Evil 
thing. In short, they were very often in his ears, and very 
often in his thoughts, but always in his good opinion; and 
he very often got such a crick in his neck by staring with his 
mouth wide open, at the steeple where they hung, that he 
was fain to take an extra trot or two, afterwards, to cure it. 

The very thing he was in the act of doing one cold day, 
Avhen the last drowsy sound of Twelve o'clock, just struck, 
was humming like a melodious monster of a Bee, and not by 
any means a busy bee, all through the steeple ! 

u Dinner-time, eh!' 1 said Toby, trotting up and down 
before the church. " Ah ! " 



TROTTY\S REFLECTIONS. Ill 

Toby's nose was very red, and his eyelids were very red, 
and he winked very much, and his shoulders were very near 
his ears, and his legs were very stiff', and altogether he was 
evidently a long way upon the frosty side of cool. 

"Dinner-time, eh!" repeated Toby, using his right-hand 
muffler like an infantine boxing-glove, and punishing his 
chest for being cold. " Ah-h-h-h ! " 

He took a silent trot, after that, for a minute or two. 

"There's nothing,"" said Toby, breaking forth afresh but 
here he stopped short in his trot, and with a face of great 
interest and some alarm, felt his nose carefully all the way 
up. It was but a little way (not l>eing much of a nose) and 
he had soon finished. 

"I thought it was gone," said Toby, trotting off' again. 
" It's all right, however. I am sure I couldn't blame it if it 
was to go. It has a precious hard service of it in the bitter 
weather, and precious little to look forward to ; for I don't 
take snuff myself. It's a good deal tried, poor creetur, at 
the best of times ; for when it does get hold of a pleasant 
whiff' or so (which an't too often), it's generally from some- 
body else's dinner, a-coming home from the baker's." 

The reflection reminded him of that other reflection, which 
he had left unfinished. 

" There's nothing," said Toby, " more regular in its coming 
round than dinner-time, and nothing less regular in its coming 
round than dinner. That's the great difference between ""em. 
It's took me a long time to find it out. I wonder whether 
it would be worth any gentleman's while, now, to buy that 
obserwation for the Papers ; or the Parliament ! '" 

Toby was only joking, for he gravely shook his head in 
self-depreciation. 

u Why ! Lord ! " said Toby. " The Papers is full of 
obserwations as it is ; and so's the Parliament. Here's last 
week's paper, now ; " taking a very dirty one from his pocket, 
and holding it from him at arm's length ; *' full of obserwa- 
tions ! Full of obserwations ! I like to know the news as 



112 THE CHIMES: 

well as any man," said Toby, slowly; folding it a little 
smaller, and putting it in his pocket again : " but it almost 
goes against the grain with me to read a paper now. It 
frightens me almost. I don't know what we poor people are 
coming to. Lord send we may be coming to something better 
in the New Year nigh upon us ! " 

" Why, father, father ! "' said a pleasant voice, hard by. 

But Toby, not hearing it, continued to trot backwards and 
forwards : musing as he went, and talking to himself. 

" It seems as if we can't go right, or do right, or be 
righted," said Toby. " I hadn't much schooling, myself, 
when I was young ; and I can't make out whether we have 
any business on the face of the earth, or not. Sometimes 
I think we must have a little ; and sometimes I think we 
must be intruding. I get so puzzled sometimes that I am 
not even able to make up my mind whether there is any 
good at all in us, or whether we are born bad. We seem 
to be dreadful things ; we seem to give a deal of trouble ; 
we are always being complained of and guarded against. One 
way or other, we fill the papers. Talk of a New Year ! " 
said Toby, mournfully. " I can bear up as well as another 
man at most times; better than a good many, for I am as 
strong as a lion, and all men an't ; but supposing it should 
really be that we have no right to a New Year supposing 
we really are intruding " 

" Why, father, father ! " said the pleasant voice again. 

Toby heard it this time ; started ; stopped ; and shortening 
his sight, which had been directed a long way off as seeking 
the enlightenment in the very heart of the approaching year, 
found himself face to face with his own child, and looking 
close into her eyes. 

Bright eyes they were. Eyes that would bear a world 
of looking in, before their depth was fathomed. Dark eyes, 
that reflected back the eyes which searched them ; not flash- 
ingly, or at the owner's will, but with a clear, calm, honest, 
patient radiance, claiming kindred with that light which 



TROTTY'S DAUGHTER AND DINNER. 113 

Heaven called into being. Eyes that were beautiful and 
true, and beaming with Hope. With Hope so young and 
fresh; with Hope so buoyant, vigorous, and bright, despite 
the twenty years of work and poverty on which they had 
looked ; that they became a voice to Trotty Veck, and said : 
" I think we have some business here a little ! " 

Trotty kissed the lips belonging to the eyes, and squeezed 
the blooming face between his hands. 

Why, Pet," said Trotty. What's to do ? I didn't 
ejv^ect you to-day, Meg." 

" Neither did I expect to come, father," cried the girl, 
nodding her head and smiling as she spoke. " But here I 
am ! And not alone ; not alone ! " 

" Why you don't mean to say," observed Trotty, looking 
curiously at a covered basket which she carried in her hand, 
"that you " 

" Smell it, father dear," said Meg. " Only smell it ! " 

Trotty was going to lift up the cover at once, in a great 
hurry, when she gaily interposed her hand. 

" No, no, no," said Meg, with the glee of a child. 
"Lengthen it out a little. Let me just lift up the corner; 
just the lit-tle ti-ny cor-ner, you know," said Meg, suiting 
the action to the word with the utmost gentleness, and 
speaking very softly, as if she were afraid of being overheard 
by something inside the basket; "there. Now. What's 
that ? " 

Toby took the shortest possible sniff' at the edge of the 
basket, and cried out in a rapture : 

" Why, it's hot ! w 

" It's burning hot ! " cried Meg. " Ha, ha, ha ! It's scald- 
ing hot ! " 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " roared Toby, with a sort of kick. " It's 
scalding hot ! " 

"But what is it, father?" said Meg. "Come. You 
haven't guessed what it is. And you must guess what it is. 
I can't think of taking it out, till you guess what it is. 



U4 THE CHIMES. 

Don't be in such a hurry ! Wait a minute ! A little bit 
more of the cover. Now guess ! " 

Meg was in a perfect fright lest he should guess right 
too soon ; shrinking away, as she held the basket towards 
him ; curling up her pretty shoulders ; stopping her ear with 
her hand, as if by so doing she could keep the right word 
out of Toby's lips ; and laughing softly the whole time. 

Meanwhile Toby, putting a hand on each knee, bent down 
his nose to the basket, and took a long inspiration at the 
lid; the grin upon his withered face expanding in the 
process, as if he were inhaling laughing gas. 

" Ah ! It's very nice," said Toby. " It an't I suppose 
it an't Polonies ? " 

" No, no, no ! " cried Meg, delighted. " Nothing like 
Polonies ! " 

" No," said Toby, after another sniff. " It's it's mellower 
than Polonies. It's very nice. It improves every moment. 
It's too decided for Trotters. An't it?" 

Meg was in an ecstasy. He could not have gone wider 
of the mark than Trotters except Polonies. 

" Liver ? " said Toby, communing with himself. " No. 
There's a mildness about it that don't answer to liver. 
Pettitoes ? No. It an't faint enough for pettitoes. It wants 
the stringiness of Cocks' heads. And I know it an't sausages. 
I'll tell you what it is. It's chitterlings ! " 

" No, it an't ! " cried Meg, in a burst of delight. " No, 
it an't ! " 

"Why, what am I a-thinking of!" said Toby, suddenly 
recovering a position as near the perpendicular as it was 
possible for him to assume. "I shall forget my own name 
next. It's tripe ! " 

Tripe it was ; and Meg, in high joy, protested he should 
say, in half a minute more, it was the best tripe ever stewed. 

" And so," said Meg, busying herself exultingly with the 
basket, "I'll lay the cloth at once, father; for I have 
brought the tripe in a basin, and tied the basin up in a 



TROTTY'S DINNER-TABLE. 115 

pocket-handkerchief; and if I like to be proud for once, and 
spread that for a cloth, and call it a cloth, there's no law to 
prevent me ; is there, father ? " 

" Not that I know of, my dear," said Toby. " But they're 
always a-bringing up some new law or other." 

" And according to what I was reading you in the paper 
the other day, father ; what the Judge said, you know ; we 
poor people are supposed to know them all. Ha ha ! What 
a mistake ! My goodness me, how clever they think us ! " 

" Yes, my dear," cried Trotty ; " and they'd be very fond 
of any one of us that did know 'em all. He'd grow fat upon 
the work he'd get, that man, and be popular with the gentle- 
folks in his neighbourhood. Very much so ! " 

" He'd eat his dinner with an appetite, whoever he was, if 
it smelt like this," said Meg, cheerfully. "Make haste, for 
there's a hot potato besides, and half a pint of fresh-drawn 
beer in a bottle. Where will you dine, father ? On the 
Post, or on the Steps ? Dear, dear, how grand we are. Two 
places to choose from ! " 

" The steps to-day, my Pet," said Trotty. " Steps in dry 
weather. Post in wet. There's a greater conveniency in the 
steps at all times, because of the sitting down ; but they're 
rheumatic in the damp." 

"Then here," said Meg, clapping her hands, after a 
moment's bustle ; " here it is, all ready ! And beautiful it 
looks ! Come, father. Come ! " 

Since his discovery of the contents of the basket, Trotty 
had been standing looking at her and had been speaking 
too in an abstracted manner, which showed that though she 
was the object of his thoughts and eyes, to the exclusion even 
of tripe, he neither saw nor thought about her as she was 
at that moment, but had before him some imaginary rough 
sketch or drama of her future life. Roused, now, by her 
cheerful summons, he shook off a melancholy shake of the 
head which was just coining upon him, and trotted to her 
side. As he was stooping to sit down, the Chimes rang. 



116 THE CHIMES. 

"Amen!" said Trotty, pulling off his hat and looking up 
towards them. 

" Amen to the Bells, father ? " cried Meg. 

"They broke in like a grace, my dear," said Trotty, 
taking his seat. " They'd say a good one, I am sure, if they 
could. Many's the kind thing they say to me. 1 ' 

" The Bells do, father ! " laughed Meg, as she set the basin, 
and a knife and fork, before him. " Well ! " 

"Seem to, my Pet," said Trotty, falling to with great 
vigour. " And where's the difference ? If I hear 'em, what 
does it matter whether they speak it or not? Why bless 
you, my dear," said Toby, pointing at the tower with his 
fork, and becoming more animated under the influence of 
dinner, " how often have I heard them bells say, * Toby Veck, 
Toby Veck, keep a good heart, Toby ! Toby Veck, Toby 
Veck, keep a good heart, Toby ! ' A million times ? More ! " 

" Well, I never ! " cried Meg. 

She had, though over and over again. For it was Toby's 
constant topic. 

" When things is very bad," said Trotty ; " very bad indeed, 
I mean ; almost at the worst ; then it's ' Toby Veck, Toby 
Veck, job coming soon, Toby! Toby Veck, Toby Veck, 
job coming soon, Toby ! ' That way." 

"And it comes at last, father," said Meg, with a touch 
of sadness in her pleasant voice. 

"Always," answered the unconscious Toby. Never fails." 

While this discourse was holding, Trotty made no pause in 
his attack upon the savoury meat before him, but cut and 
ate, and cut and drank, and cut and chewed, and dodged 
about, from tripe to hot potato, and from hot potato back 
again to tripe, with an unctuous and unflagging relish. But 
happening now to look all round the street in case anybody 
should be beckoning from any door or window, for a porter- 
his eyes, in coming back again, encountered Meg: sitting 
opposite to him, with her arms folded: and only busy in 
watching his progress with a smile of happiness. 



MEG HAS SOMETHING TO TELL. 117 

" Why, Lord forgive me ! " said Trotty, dropping his knife 
and fork. " My dove ! Meg ! why didn't you tell me what a 
beast I was ? " 

"Father?" 

" Sitting here," said Trotty, in penitent explanation, 
" cramming, and stuffing, and gorging myself; and you before 
me there, never so much as breaking your precious fast, nor 
wanting to, when 

"But I have broken it, father," interposed his daughter, 
laughing, "all to bits. I have had my dinner." 

" Nonsense," said Trotty. " Two dinners in one day ! It 
an't possible ! You might as well tell me that two New 
Year's Days will come together, or that I have had a gold 
head all my life, and never changed it." 

"I have had my dinner, father, for all that," said Meg, 
coming nearer to him. "And if you'll go on with yours, I'll 
tell you how and where; and how your dinner came to IK? 
brought ; and and something else besides." 

Toby still appeared incredulous ; but she looked into his 
face with her clear eyes, and laying her hand upon his shoulder, 
motioned him to go on while the meat was hot. So Trotty 
took up his knife and fork again, and went to work. But 
much more slowly than before, and shaking his head, as if he 
were not at all pleased with himself. 

"I had my dinner, father," said Meg, after a little hesita- 
tion, " with with Richard. His dinner-time was early ; and 
as he brought his dinner with him when he came to see me, 
we we had it together, father." 

Trotty took a little beer, and smacked his lips. Then he 
said, "Oh!" because she waited. 

" And Richard says, father " Meg resumed. Then stopped. 

"What does Richard say, Meg?" asked Toby. 

" Richard says, father " Another stoppage. 

" Richard's a long time saying it," said Toby. 

" He says then, father," Meg continued, lifting up her eyes 
at last, and speaking in a tremble, but quite plainly ; "another 



118 THE CHIMES. 

year is nearly gone, and where is the use of waiting on from 
year to yearj when it is so unlikely we shall ever be better off 
than we are now ? He says we are poor now, father, and we 
shall be poor then, but we are young now, and years will 
make us old before we know it. He says that if we wait: 
people in our condition : until we see our way quite clearly, 
the way will be a narrow one indeed the common way the 
Grave, father." 

A bolder man than Trotty Veck must needs have drawn 
upon his boldness largely, to deny it. Trotty held his peace. 
" And how hard, father, to grow old, and die, and think 
we might have cheered and helped each other! How hard 
in all our lives to love each other; and to grieve, apart, to 
see each other working, changing, growing old and grey. 
Even if I got the better of it, and forgot him (which I never 
could), oh father dear, how hard to have a heart so full as 
mine is now, and live to have it slowly drained out every drop, 
without the recollection of one happy moment of a woman's 
life, to stay behind and comfort me, and make me better ! " 

Trotty sat quite still. Meg .dried her eyes, and said more 
gaily : that is to say, with here a laugh, and there a sob, and 
here a laugh and sob together : 

"So Richard says, father; as his work was yesterday made 
certain for some time to come, and as I love him, and have 
loved him full three years ah ! longer than that, if he knew 
it! will I marry him on New Year's Day; the best and 
happiest day, he says, in the whole year, and one that is 
almost sure to bring good fortune with it. It's a short 
notice, father isn't it? but I haven't my fortune to be 
settled, or my wedding dresses to be made, like the great 
ladies, father, have I ? And he said so much, and said it in 
his way ; so strong and earnest, and all the time so kind and 
gentle; that I said I'd come and talk to you, father. And 
as they paid the money for that work of mine this morning 
(unexpectedly, I am sure ! ) and as you have fared very poorly 
for a whole week, and as I couldn't help wishing there should 



THE DINNER COOLING ON THE STEP. 119 

be something to make this day a sort of holiday to you as 
well as a dear and happy day to me, father, I made a little 
treat and brought it to surprise you." 

"And see how he leaves it cooling on the step!" said 
another voice. 

It was the voice of this same Richard, who had come upon 
them unobserved, and stood before the father and daughter ; 
looking down upon them with a face as glowing as the iron 
on which his stout sledge-hammer daily rung. A handsome, 
well-made, powerful youngster he was ; with eyes that sparkled 
like the red-hot droppings from a furnace fire; black hair 
that curled about his swarthy temples rarely ; and a smile 
a smile that bore out Meg's eulogium on his style of 
conversation. 

" See how he leaves it cooling on the step ! " said Richard. 
" Meg don't know what he likes. Not she ! "" 

Trotty, all action and enthusiasm, immediately reached up 
his hand to Richard, and was going to address him in a 
great hurry, when the house-door opened without any 
warning, and a footman very nearly put his foot into the 
tripe. 

" Out of the vays here, will you ! You must always go 
and be a-settin on our steps, must you ! You can't go and 
give a turn to none of the neighbours never, can't you ! 
Will you clear the road, or won't you?" 

Strictly speaking, the last question was irrelevant, as they 
had already done it. 

" What's the matter, what's the matter ! " said the gentle- 
man for whom the door was opened ; coming out of the house 
at that kind of light-heavy pace that peculiar compromise 
between a walk and a jog-trot Avith which a gentleman 
upon the smooth down-hill of life, wearing creaking boots, a 
watch-chain, and clean linen, may come out of his house: 
not only without any abatement of his dignity, but with an 
expression of having important and wealthy engagements 
elsewhere. " What's the matter ! What's the matter P 



120 THE CHIMES. 

"You're always a-being begged, and prayed, upon your 
bended knees you are," said the footman with great emphasis 
to Trotty Veck, "to let our door-steps be. Why don't you 
let 'em be ? CAN'T you let 'em be ? " 

"There! That'll do, that'll do!" said the gentleman. 
" Halloa there ! Porter ! " beckoning with his head to Trotty 
Veck. " Come here. What's that ? Your dinner ? " 

"Yes, sir," said Trotty, leaving it behind him in a corner. 

" Don't leave it there," exclaimed the gentleman. " Bring 
it here, bring it here. So ! This is your dinner, is it ? " 

" Yes, sir," repeated Trotty, looking with a fixed eye and a 
watery mouth, at the piece of tripe he had reserved for a 
last delicious tit-bit ; which the gentleman was now turning, 
over and over on the end of the fork. 

Two other gentlemen had come out with him. One was a 
low-spirited gentleman of middle age, of a meagre habit, and 
a disconsolate face; who kept his hands continually in the 
pockets of his scanty pepper-and-salt trousers, very large and 
dog's-eared from that custom; and was not particularly 
well brushed or washed. The other, a full-sized, sleek, well- 
conditioned gentleman, in a blue coat with bright buttons, 
and a white cravat. This gentleman had a very red face, 
as if an undue proportion of the blood in his body were 
squeezed up into his head ; which perhaps accounted for his 
having also the appearance of being rather cold about the 
heart. 

He who had Toby's meat upon the fork, called to the first 
one by the name of Filer ; and they both drew near together. 
Mr. Filer being exceedingly short-sighted, was obliged to go 
so close to the remnant of Toby's dinner before he could 
make out what it was, that Toby's heart leaped up into his 
mouth. But Mr. Filer didn't eat it. 

'This is a description of animal food, Alderman," said 
Filer, making little punches in it with a pencil-case, 
"commonly known to the labouring population of this 
country, by the name of tripe." 



THE GREAT ALDERMAN CUTE. 121 

The Alderman laughed, and winked ; for he was a merry 
fellow, Alderman Cute. Oh, and a sly fellow too ! A know- 
ing fellow. Up to everything. Not to be imposed upon. 
Deep in the people's hearts ! He knew them, Cute did. I 
believe you ! 

" But who eats tripe ? "" said Mr. Filer, looking round. 
"Tripe is without an exception the least economical, and 
the most wasteful article of consumption that the markets 
of this country can by possibility produce. The loss upon a 
pound of tripe has been found to be, in the boiling, seven- 
eights of a fifth more than the loss upon a pound of any 
other animal substance whatever. Tripe is more expensive, 
properly understood, than the hothouse pine-apple. Taking 
into account the number of animals slaughtered yearly within 
the bills of mortality alone ; and forming a low estimate of 
the quantity of tripe which the carcases of those animals, 
reasonably well butchered, would yield ; I find that the waste 
on that amount of tripe, if boiled, would victual a garrison 
of five hundred men for five months of thirty-one days each, 
and a February over. The Waste, the Waste ! " 

Trotty stood aghast, and his legs shook under him. He 
seemed to have starved a garrison of five hundred men with 
his own hand. 

"Who eats tripe? 11 said Mr. Filer, warmly. "Who eats 
tripe? 11 

Trotty made a miserable bow. 

"You do, do you?" said Mr. Filer. "Then I'll tell you 
something. You snatch your tripe, my friend, out of the 
mouths of widows and orphans. 11 

"I hope not, sir, 11 said Trotty, faintly. "I'd sooner die 
of want ! " 

" Divide the amount of tripe before-mentioned, Alderman, 11 
said Mr. Filer, " by the estimated number of existing widows 
and orphans, and the result will be one pennyweight of tripe 
to each. Not a grain is left for that man. Consequently, 
he^ a robber. 11 



122 THE CHIMES. 

Trotty was so shocked, that it gave him no concern to see 
the Alderman finish the tripe himself. It was a relief to get 
rid of it, anyhow. 




; And what do you say?" asked 
the Alderman, jocosely, of the red- 
faced gentleman in the blue coat. 
" You have heard friend Filer. What 
do you say ? " 

"What's it possible to say?" returned the gentleman. 
"What is to be said? Who can take any interest in a 
fellow like this," meaning Trotty; "in such degenerate times 



THE GOOD OLD TIMES. 123 

as these ? Look at him. What an object ! The good old 
times, the grand old times, the great old times ! Those were 
the times for a bold peasantry, and all that sort of thing. 
Those were the times for every sort of thing, in fact. There's 
nothing now-a-days. Ah!"" sighed the red-faced gentleman. 
" The good old times, the good old times ! "" 

The gentleman didn't specify what particular times he 
alluded to ; nor did he say whether he objected to the 
present times, from a disinterested consciousness that they 
had done nothing very remarkable in producing himself. 

"The good old times, the good old times," repeated the 
gentleman. " What times they were ! They were the only 
times. It's of no use talking about any other times, or 
discussing what the people are in tJiese times. You don't 
call these, times, do you ? I don't. Look into Strutt's 
Costumes, and see what a Porter used to be, in any of the 
good old English reigns." 

" He hadn't, in his very best circumstances, a shirt to his 
back, or a stocking to his foot ; and there was scarcely a 
vegetable in all England for him to put into his mouth," 
said Mr. Filer. " I can prove it, by tables." 

But still the red-faced gentleman extolled the good old 
times, the grand old times, the great old times. No matter 
what anybody else said, he still went turning round and 
round in one set form of words concerning them ; as a poor 
squirrel turns and turns in its revolving cage; touching the 
mechanism, and trick of which, it has probably quite as 
distinct perceptions, as ever this red-faced gentleman had of 
his deceased Millennium. 

It is possible that poor Trotty's faith in these very vague 
Old Times was not entirely destroyed, for he felt vague 
enough, at that moment. One thing, however, was plain 
to him, in the midst of his distress; to wit, that however 
these gentlemen might differ in details, his misgivings of 
that morning, and of many other mornings, were well 
founded. " No, no. We can't go right or do right," 



124 THE CHIMES. 

thought Trotty in despair. "There is no good in us. We 
are born bad ! " 

But Trotty had a father's heart within him ; which had 
somehow got into his breast in spite of this decree; and he 
could not bear that Meg, in the blush of her brief joy, should 
have her fortune read by these wise gentlemen. " God help 
her," thought poor Trotty. " She will know it soon enough. 11 

He anxiously signed, therefore, to the young smith, to take 
her away. But he was so busy, talking to her softly at a 
little distance, that he only became conscious of this desire, 
simultaneously with Alderman Cute. Now, the Alderman 
had not yet had his say, but lie was a philosopher, too 
practical, though! Oh, very practical and, as he had no 
idea of losing any portion of his audience, he cried " Stop ! " 

"Now, you know," said the Alderman, addressing his two 
friends, with a self-complacent smile upon his face which was 
habitual to him, " I am a plain man, and a practical man ; 
and I go to work in a plain practical way. That's my way. 
There is not the least mystery or difficulty in dealing with 
this sort of people if you only understand 'em, and can talk 
to 'em in their own manner. Now, you Porter ! Don't you 
ever tell me, or anybody else, my friend, that you haven't 
always enough to eat, and of the best ; because I know 
better. I have tasted your tripe, you know, and you can't 
' chaff' me. You understand what ' chaff' means, eh ? That's 
the right word, isn't it? Ha, ha, ha! Lord bless you," 
said the Alderman, turning to his friends again, "it's the 
easiest thing on earth to deal with this sort of people, if you 
understand 'em." 

Famous man for the common people, Alderman Cute ! 
Never out of temper with them ! Easy, affable, joking, 
knowing gentleman ! 

"You see, my friend," pursued the Alderman, "there's a 
great deal of nonsense talked about Want 'hard up,' you 
know; that's the phrase, isn't it? ha ! ha ! ha ! and I intend 
to Put it Down. There's a certain amount of cant in vogue 



TO BE MARRIED ON NEW YEAR'S DAY. 125 

about Starvation, and I mean to Put it Down. That's all ! 
Lord bless you, 1 ' said the Alderman, turning to his friends 
again, "you may Put Down anything among this sort of 
people, if you only know the way to set about it." 

Trotty took Meg's hand and drew it through his arm. 
He didn't seem to know what he was doing though. 

"Your daughter, eh?" said the Alderman, chucking her 
familiarly under the chin. 

Always affable with the working classes, Alderman Cute ! 
Knew what pleased them ! Not a bit of pride ! 

" Where's her mother ? " asked that worthy gentleman. 

" Dead," said Toby. " Her mother got up linen ; and was 
called to Heaven when She was born." 

"Not to get up linen there, I suppose," remarked the 
Alderman pleasantly. 

Toby might or might not have been able to separate his 
wife in Heaven from her old pursuits. But query : If Mrs. 
Alderman Cute had gone to Heaven, would Mr. Alderman 
Cute have pictured her as holding any state or station 
there ? 

" And you're making love to her, are you ? " said Cute to 
the young smith. 

"Yes," returned Richard quickly, for he was nettled by 
the question. "And we are going to be married on New 
Year's Day." 

" What do you mean ! " cried Filer sharply. " Married ! " 

"Why, yes, we're thinking of it, Master," said Richard. 
" We're rather in a hurry, you see, in case it should be Put 
Down first." 

"Ah ! " cried Filer, with a groan. " Put that down indeed, 
Alderman, and you'll do something. Married! Married!! 
The ignorance of the first principles of political economy on 
the part of these people; their improvidence; their wicked- 
ness ; is, by Heavens ! enough to Now look at that couple, 
will you !" 

Well ? They were worth looking at. And marriage 



126 THE CHIMES. 

seemed as reasonable and fair a deed as they need have in 
contemplation. 

"A man may live to be as old as Methuselah," said Mr. 
Filer, "and may labour all his life for the benefit of such 
people as those; and may heap up facts on figures, facts on 
figures, facts on figures, mountains high and dry ; and he can 
no more hope to persuade 'em that they have no right or 
business to be married, than he can hope to persuade 'em 
that they have no earthly right or business to be born. And 
that we know they haven't. We reduced it to a mathematical 
certainty long ago ! " 

Alderman Cute was mightily diverted, and laid his right 
forefinger on the side of his nose, as much as to say to both 
his friends, " Observe me, will you ! Keep your eye on the 
practical man ! " and called Meg to him. 

" Come here, my girl ! " said Alderman Cute. 

The young blood of her lover had been mounting, wrath- 
ful ly, within the last few minutes ; and he was indisposed to 
let her come. But, setting a constraint upon himself, he came 
forward with a stride as Meg approached, and stood beside 
her. Trotty kept her hand within his arm still, but looked 
from face to face as wildly as a sleeper in a dream. 

" Now, I'm going to give you a word or two of good advice, 
my girl," said the Alderman, in his nice easy way. " It's my 
place to give advice, you know, because I'm a Justice. You 
know I'm a Justice, don't you ? " 

Meg timidly said, " Yes." But everybody knew Alderman 
Cute was a Justice ! Oh dear, so active a Justice always ! 
Who such a mote of brightness in the public eye, as Cute ! 

" You are going to be married, you say," pursued the 
Alderman. " Very unbecoming and indelicate in one of your 
sex ! But never mind that. After you are married, you'll 
quarrel with your husband and come to be a distressed wife. 
You may think not; but you will, because I tell you so. 
Now, I give you fair warning, that I have made up my mind 
to Put distressed wives Down. So, don't be brought before 



ALDERMAN CUTE'S ADVICE. 127 

me. You'll have children boys. Those boys will grow up 
bad, of course, and run wikl in the streets, without shoes and 
stockings. Mind, my young friend ! I'll convict 'em sum- 
marily, every one, for I am determined to Put boys without 
shoes and stockings, Down. Perhaps your husband will die 
young (most likely) and leave you with a baby. Then you'll 
be turned out of doors, and wander up and down the streets. 
Now, don't wander near me, my dear, for I am resolved to 
Put all wandering mothers Down. All young mothers, of all 
sorts and kinds, it's my determination to Put Down. Don't 
think to plead illness as an excuse with me ; or babies as an 
excuse with me ; for all sick persons and young children (I 
hope you know the church-service, but I'm afraid not) I am 
determined to Put Down. And if you attempt, desperately, 
and ungratefully, and impiously, and fraudulently attempt, 
to drown yourself, or hang yourself, Fll have no pity for 
you, for I have made up my mind to Put all suicide Down ! 
If there is one thing," said the Alderman, with his self- 
satisfied smile, "on which I can be said to have made up 
my mind more than on another, it is to Put suicide Down. 
So don't try it on. That's the phrase, isn't it? Ha, ha! 
now we understand each other." 

Toby knew not whether to be agonised or glad, to see that 
Meg had turned a deadly white, and dropped her lover's hand. 

" And as for you, you dull dog," said the Alderman, turning 
with even increased cheerfulness and urbanity to the young 
smith, " what are you thinking of being married for ? What 
do you want to be married for, you silly fellow ? If I was a 
fine, young, strapping chap like you, I should be ashamed of 
being milksop enough to pin myself to a woman's apron- 
strings ! Why, she'll be an old woman before you're a middle- 
aged man ! And a pretty figure you'll cut then, with a 
draggle-tailed wife and a crowd of squalling children crying 
after you wherever you go ! " 

O, he knew bow to banter the common people, Alderman 
Cute! 



128 THE CHIMES. 

"There! Go along with you," said the Alderman, "and 
repent. Don't make such a fool of yourself as to get married 
on New Year's Day. You'll think very differently of it, long 
before next New Year's Day : a trim young fellow like you, 
with all the girls looking after you. There ! Go along with 
you ! " 

They went along. Not arm in arm, or hand in hand, or 
interchanging bright glances ; but, she in tears ; he, gloomy 
and down-looking. Were these the hearts that had so lately 
made old Toby's leap up from its faintness ? No, no. The 
Alderman (a blessing on his head !) had Put them Down. 

"As you happen to be here," said the Alderman to Toby, 
" you shall carry a letter for me. Can you be quick ? You're 
an old man." 

Toby, who had been looking after Meg, quite stupidly, 
made shift to murmur out that he was very quick, and very 
strong. 

" How old are you ? " inquired the Alderman. 

" I'm over sixty, sir," said Toby. 

" O ! This man's a great deal past the average age, you 
know," cried Mr. Filer, breaking in as if his patience would 
bear some trying, but this really was carrying matters a 
little too far. 

" I feel I'm intruding, sir," said Toby. " I I misdoubted 
it this morning. Oh dear me ! " 

The Alderman cut him short by giving him the letter 
from his pocket. Toby would have got a shilling too ; but 
Mr. Filer clearly showing that in that case he would rob 
a certain given number of persons of ninepence-halfpenny 
a-piece, he only got sixpence ; and thought himself very well 
off' to get that. 

Then the Alderman gave an arm to each of his friends, 
and walked oft' in high feather ; but, he immediately came 
hurrying back alone, as if he had forgotten something. 

" Porter ! " said the Alderman. 

" Sir ! " said Toby. 



TROTTY VECK IS WRONG EVERY WAY. 129 

"Take care of that daughter of yours. She's much too 
handsome." 

" Even her good looks are stolen from somebody or other, 
I suppose," thought Toby, looking at the sixpence in his 
hand, and thinking of the tripe. "She's been and robbed 
five hundred ladies of a bloom a-piece, I shouldn't wonder. 
It's very dreadful ! " 

" She's much too handsome, my man,' 1 repeated the Alder- 
man. "The chances are, that she'll come to no good, I 
clearly see. Observe what I say. Take care of her ! " With 
which, he hurried off again. 

" Wrong every way. Wrong every way ! " said Trotty, 
clasping his hands. "Born bad. No business here!" 

The Chimes came clashing in upon him as he said the 
words. Full, loud, and sounding but with no encouragement. 
No, not a drop. 

"The tune's changed," cried the old man, as he listened. 
"There's not a word of all that fancy in it. Why should 
there be ? I have no business with the New Year nor with 
the old one neither. Let me die ! " 

Still the Bells, pealing forth their changes, made the very 
air spin. Put 'em down, Put 'em down ! Good old Times, 
Good old Times ! Facts and Figures, Facts and Figures ! 
Put 'em down, Put 'em down ! If they said anything they 
said this, until the brain of Toby reeled. 

He pressed his bewildered head between his hands, as if 
to keep it from splitting asunder. A well-timed action, as it 
happened ; for finding the letter in one of them, and being 
by that means reminded of his charge, Ije fell, mechanically, 
into his usual trot, and trotted off. 




; HE letter Toby had received from 
Alderman Cute, was addressed to 
a great man in the great district 
of the town. The greatest district 
of the town. It must have been the 
greatest district of the town, because it 
was commonly called " the world " by its 
inhabitants. 
The letter 
positively 
seemed hea- 
vierinTobv s 
hand, than 
another let- 
ter. Not 
because the 
Aid erman 
had sealed it 
with a very 
large coat of 
arms and no 
end of wax, 

but because of the weighty name on the superscription, and 
the ponderous amount of gold and silver with which it was 
associated. 
" How different from us ! " thought Toby, in all simplicity 



THE FADING YEAR. 131 

and earnestness, as he looked at the direction. "Divide the 
lively turtles in the bills of mortality, by the number of 
gentlefolks able to buy 'em; and whose share does he take 
but his own ! As to snatching tripe from anybody's mouth 
he'd scorn it ! " 

With the involuntary homage due to such an exalted 
character, Toby interposed a corner of his apron between the 
letter and his fingers. 

" His children," said Trotty, and a mist rose before his 
eyes; "his daughters Gentlemen may win their hearts and 
marry them ; they may be happy wives and mothers ; they 
may be handsome like my darling M e " 

He couldn't finish the name. The final letter swelled in 
his throat, to the size of the whole alphabet. 

" Never mind," thought Trotty. " I know what I mean. 
That's more than enough for me." And with this consolatory 
rumination, trotted on. 

It was a hard frost, that day. The air was bracing, crisp, 
and clear. The wintry sun, though powerless for warmth, 
looked brightly down upon the ice it was too weak to melt, 
and set a radiant glory there. At other times, Trotty might 
have learned a poor man's lesson from the wintry sun ; but, 
he was past that, now. 

The Year was Old, that day. The patient Year had lived 
through the reproaches and misuses of its slanderers, and 
faithfully performed its work. Spring, summer, autumn, 
winter. It had laboured through the destined round, and 
now laid down its weary head to die. Shut out from hope, 
high impulse, active happiness, itself, but active messenger of 
many joys to others, it made appeal in its decline to have its 
toiling days and patient hours remembered, and to die in 
peace. Trotty might have read a poor man's allegory in the 
fading year ; but he was past that, now. 

And only he ? Or has the like appeal been ever made, by 
seventy years at once upon an English labourer's head, and 
made in vain i 



132 THE CHIMES. 

The streets were full of motion, and the shops were decked 
out gaily. The New Year, like an Infant Heir to the whole 
world, was waited for, with welcomes, presents, and rejoicings. 
There were books and toys for the New Year, glittering 
trinkets for the New Year, dresses for the New Year, schemes 
of fortune for the New Year ; new inventions to beguile it. 
Its life was parcelled out in almanacks and pocket-books ; the 
coming of its moons, and stars, and tides, was known before- 
hand to the moment ; all the workings of its seasons in their 
days and nights, were calculated with as much precision as 
Mr. Filer could work sums in men and women. 

The New Year, the New Year. Everywhere the New 
Year ! The Old Year was already looked upon as dead ; 
and its effects were selling cheap, like some drowned mariner's 
aboardship. Its patterns were Last Year's, and going at a 
sacrifice, before its breath was gone. Its treasures were mere 
dirt, beside the riches of its unborn successor ! 

Trotty had no portion, to his thinking, in the New Year 
or the Old. 

"Put 'em down, Put 'em down! Facts and Figures, 
Facts and Figures ! Good old Times, Good old Times ! Put 
"em down, Put 'em down ! " his trot went to that measure, 
and would fit itself to nothing else. 

But, even that one, melancholy as it was, brought him, in 
due time, to the end of his journey. To the mansion of Sir 
Joseph Bowley, Member of Parliament. 

The door was opened by a Porter. Such a Porter ! Not 
of Toby's order. Quite another thing. His place was the 
ticket though ; not Toby's. 

This Porter underwent some hard panting before he could 
speak; having breathed himself by coming incautiously out 
of his chair, without first taking time to think about it and 
compose his mind. When he had found his voice which it 
took him a long time to do, for it was a long way off, and 
hidden under a load of meat he said in a fat whisper, 

"AVho'sit from?" 



SIR JOSEPH BOWLEY. 133 

Toby told him. 

" You're to take it in, yourself," said the Porter, pointing 
to a room at the end of a long passage, opening from the 
hall. " Everything goes straight in, on this day of the year. 
You're not a bit too soon ; for the carriage is at the door 
now, and they have only come to town for a couple of hours, 
iC purpose." 

Toby wiped his feet (which were quite dry already) with 
great care, and took the way pointed out to him ; observing 
as he went that it was an awfully grand house, but hushed 
and covered up, as if the family were in the country. 
Knocking at the room-door, he was told to enter from 
within ; and doing so found himself in a spacious library, 
where, at a table strewn with files and papers, were a stately 
lady in a bonnet; and a not very stately gentleman in black 
who wrote from her dictation ; while another, and an older, 
and a much statelier gentleman, whose hat and cane were on 
the table, walked up and down, with one hand in his breast, 
and looked complacently from time to time at his own 
picture a full length ; a very full length hanging over the 
fireplace. 

" What is this ? " said the last-named gentleman. " Mr. 
Fish, will you have the goodness to attend ? " 

Mr. Fish begged pardon, and taking the letter from Toby, 
handed it, with great respect. 

" From Alderman Cute, Sir Joseph."" 

" Is this all ? Have you nothing else, Porter ? " inquired 
Sir Joseph. 

Toby replied in the negative. 

" You have no bill or demand upon me my name is 
Bowley, Sir Joseph Bowley of any kind from anybody, have 
you ? " said Sir Joseph. " If you have, present it. There is 
a cheque-book by the side of Mr. Fish. I allow nothing to 
be carried into the New Year. Every description of account 
is settled in this house at the close of the old one. So that 
if death was to to " 



4 THE CHIMES. 

"To cut, 1 ' suggested Mr. Fish. 



j_u VUV) ""ot> 

'To sever, sir, 1 ' returned Sir Joseph, with great asperity, 



i> 




the cord of existence 
^ my affairs would be 
found, I hope, in a state 
o f preparation/ 1 
"My dear Sir Joseph! 11 said the lady, who was greatly 
younger than the gentleman. " How shocking ! " 

"My lady Bowley, 11 returned Sir Joseph, floundering now 



THE POOR MAN'S FRIEND. 135 

and then, as in the great depth of his observations, "at this 
season of the year we should think of of ourselves. We 
should look into our our accounts. We should feel that 
every return of so eventful a period in human transactions, 
involves a matter of deep moment between a man and his 
and his banker." 

Sir Joseph delivered these words as if he felt the full 
morality of what he was saying ; and desired that even Trotty 
should have an opportunity of being improved by such dis- 
course. Possibly he had this end before him in still forbear- 
ing to break the seal of the letter, and in telling Trotty 
to wait where he was, a minute. 

"You were desiring Mr. Fish to say, my lady " observed 
Sir Joseph. 

" Mr. Fish has said that, I believe,' 1 returned his lady, 
glancing at the letter. " But, upon my word, Sir Joseph, I 
don't think I can let it go after all. It is so very dear." 

"What is dear?" inquired Sir Joseph. 

"That Charity, my love. They only allow two votes for 
a subscription of five pounds. Really monstrous !" 

" My lady Bowley," returned Sir Joseph, " you surprise 
me. Is the luxury of feeling in proportion to the number of 
votes ; or is it, to a rightly constituted mind, in proportion 
to the number of applicants, and the wholesome state of 
mind to which their canvassing reduces them ? Is there no 
excitement of the purest kind in having two votes to dispose 
of among fifty people?" 

" Not to me, I acknowledge," replied the lady. " It bores 
one. Besides, one can't oblige one's acquaintance. But you 
are the Poor Man's Friend, you know, Sir Joseph. You 
think otherwise." 

"I am the Poor Man's Friend," observed Sir Joseph, 
glancing at the poor man present. "As such I may be 
taunted. As such I have been taunted. But I ask no other 
title." 

" Bless him for a noble gentleman ! " thought Trottv. 



13 6 THE CHIMES. 

"I don't agree with Cute here, for instance," said Sir 
Joseph, holding out the letter. "I don't agree with the 
Filer party. I don't agree with any party. My friend the 
Poor Man, has no business with anything of that sort, and 
nothing of that sort has any business with him. My friend 
the Poor Man, in my district, is my business. No man or 
body of men has any right to interfere between my friend 
and me. That is the ground I take. I assume a a 
paternal character towards my friend. I say, 4 My good 
fellow, I will treat you paternally/ " 

Toby listened with great gravity, and began to feel more 
comfortable. 

" Your only business, my good fellow," pursued Sir Joseph, 
looking abstractedly at Toby; "your only business in life 
is with me. You needn't trouble yourself to think about 
anything. I will think for you ; I know what is good for 
you ; I am your perpetual parent. Such is the dispensation 
of an all-wise Providence ! Now, the design of your creation 
is not that you should swill, and guzzle, and associate your 
enjoyments, brutally, with food;" Toby thought remorse- 
fully of the tripe ; " but that you should feel the Dignity of 
Labour. Go forth erect into the cheerful morning air, and 
and stop there. Live hard and temperately, be respectful, 
exercise your self-denial, bring up your family on next to 
nothing, pay your rent as regularly as the clock strikes, be 
punctual in your dealings (I set you a good example ; you 
will find Mr. Fish, my confidential secretary, with a cash-box 
before him at all times); and you may trust to me to be 
your Friend and Father." 

" Nice children, indeed, Sir Joseph ! " said the lady, with a 
shudder. "Rheumatisms, and fevers, and crooked legs, and 
asthmas, and all kinds of horrors ! " 

" My lady," returned Sir Joseph, with solemnity, " not the 
less am I the Poor Man's Friend and Father. Not the less 
shall he receive encouragement at my hands. Every quarter- 
day he will be put in communication with Mr. Fish. Every 



THE PEOBLE'S FRIEND AND FATHER. 137 

New Year's Day, myself and friends will drink his health. 
Once every year, myself and friends will address him with the 
deepest feeling. Once in his life, he may even perhaps receive ; 
in public, in the presence of the gentry; a Trifle from a 
Friend. And when, upheld no more by these stimulants, 'and 
the Dignity of Labour, he sinks into his comfortable grave, 
then, my lady" here Sir Joseph blew his nose "I will be 
a Friend and a Father on the same terms to his children." 

Toby was greatly moved. 

" O ! You have a thankful family, Sir Joseph ! " cried his 
wife. 

" My lady, 11 said Sir Joseph, quite majestically, " Ingrati- 
tude is known to be the sin of that class. I expect no other 
return."" 

" Ah ! Born bad ! " thought Toby. " Nothing melts us." 

" What man can do, / do," pursued Sir Joseph. " I do 
my duty as the Poor Man's Friend and Father; and I 
endeavour to educate his mind, by inculcating on all occasions 
the one great moral lesson which that class requires. That is, 
entire Dependence on myself. They have no business what- 
ever with with themselves. If wicked and designing persons 
tell them otherwise, and they become impatient and dis- 
contented, and are guilty of insubordinate conduct and black- 
hearted ingratitude ; which is undoubtedly the case ; I am their 
Friend and Father still. It is so Ordained. It is in the 
nature of things." 

With that great sentiment, he opened the Alderman's 
letter ; and read it. 

"Very polite and attentive, I am 'sure!" exclaimed Sir 
Joseph. " My lady, the Alderman is so obliging as to remind 
me that he has had ' the distinguished honour ' he is very 
good of meeting me at the house of our mutual friend 
Deedles, the banker ; and he does me the favour to inquire 
whether it will be agreeable to me to have Will Fern put 
down." 1 

" Most agreeable ! " replied my Lady Bowley. " The worst 



138 THE CHIMES. 

man among them ! He has been committing a robbery, I 
hope?" 

" Why no," said Sir Joseph, referring to the letter. " Not 
quite. Very near. Not quite. He came up to London, it 
seems, to look for employment (trying to better himself 
that's his story), and being found at night asleep in a shed, 
was taken into custody, and carried next morning before the 
Alderman. The Alderman observes (very properly) that he 
is determined to put this sort of thing down ; and that if it 
will be agreeable to me to have Will Fern put down, he will 
be happy to begin with him." 

" Let him be made an example of, by all means," returned 
the lady. "Last winter, when I introduced pinking and 
eyelet-holing among the men and boys in the village, as a 
nice evening employment, and had the lines, 

O let us love our occupations, 
Bless the squire and liis relations, 
Live upon our daily rations, 
And always know our proper stations, 

set to music on the new system, for them to sing the while; 
this very Fern I see him now touched that hat of his, and 
said, * I humbly ask your pardon, my lady, but ant I some- 
thing different from a great girl ? ' I expected it, of course ; 
who can expect anything but insolence and ingratitude from 
that class of people ! That is not to the purpose, however. 
Sir Joseph ! Make an example of him ! " 

" Hem ! " coughed Sir Joseph. " Mr. Fish, if you'll have 
the goodness to attend " 

Mr. Fish immediately seized his pen, and wrote from Sir 
Joseph's dictation. 

" Private. My dear Sir. I am very much indebted to you 
for your courtesy in the matter of the man William Fern, of 
whom, I regret to add, I can say nothing favourable. I have 
uniformly considered myself in the light of his Friend and 
Father, but have been repaid (a common case, I grieve to say) 
with ingratitude, and constant opposition to my plans. He 



WILL FERN MUST BE PUT DOWN. 139 

is a turbulent and rebellious spirit. His character will not 
bear investigation. Nothing will persuade him to be happy 
when he might. Under these circumstances, it appears to 
me, I own, that when he comes before you again (as you 
informed me he promised to do to-morrow, pending your 
inquiries, and I think he may be so far relied upon), his 
committal for some short term as a Vagabond, would be a 
service to society, and would be a salutary example in a 
country where for the sake of those who are, through good 
and evil report, the Friends and Fathers of the Poor, as well 
as with a view to that, generally speaking, misguided class 
themselves examples are greatly needed. And I am," and 
so forth. 

" It appears," remarked Sir Joseph when he had signed this 
letter, and Mr. Fish was sealing it, " as if this were Ordained : 
really. At the close of the year, I wind up my account and 
strike my balance, even with William Fern ! " 

Trotty, who had long ago relapsed, and was very low- 
spirited, stepped forward with a rueful face to take the 
letter. 

"With my compliments and thanks," said Sir Joseph." 
" Stop ! " 

"Stop! "echoed Mr. Fish. 

" You have heard, perhaps," said Sir Joseph, oracularly, 
" certain remarks into which I have been led respecting the 
solemn period of time at which we have arrived, and the 
duty imposed upon us of settling our affairs, and being pre- 
pared. You have observed that I don"t shelter myself behind 
my superior standing in society, but that Mr. Fish that 
gentleman has a cheque-book at his elbow, and is in fact 
here, to enable me to turn over a perfectly new leaf, and 
enter on the epoch before us with a clean account. Now, my 
friend, can you lay your hand upon your heart, and say, that 
you also have made preparations for a New Year ? " 

"I am afraid, sir," stammered Trotty, looking meekly at 
him, " that I am a a little behind-hand with the world." 



140 THE CHIMES. 

"Behind-hand with the world!" repeated Sir Joseph 
Bowley, in a tone of terrible distinctness. 

" I am afraid, sir," faltered Trotty, " that there's a matter 
of ten or twelve shillings owing to Mrs. Chickenstalker." 

"To Mrs. Chickenstalker ! " repeated Sir Joseph, in the 
same tone as before. 

" A shop, sir," exclaimed Toby, " in the general line. Also 
a a little money on account of rent. A very little, sir. It 
oughtn't to be owing, I know, but we have been hard put to 
it, indeed ! " 

Sir Joseph looked at his lady, and at Mr. Fish, and at 
Trotty, one after another, twice all round. He then made 
a despondent gesture with both hands at once, as if he 
gave the thing up altogether. 

" How a man, even among this improvident and im- 
practicable race ; an old man ; a man grown grey ; can look 
a New Year in the face, with his affairs in this condition ; 
how he can lie down on his bed at night, and get up again 
in the morning, and There ! " he said, turning his back on 
Trotty. " Take the letter. Take the letter ! " 

" I heartily wish it was otherwise, sir," said Trotty, anxious 
to excuse himself. " We have been tried very hard." 

Sir Joseph still repeating "Take the letter, take the 
letter!" and Mr. Fish not only saying the same thing, but 
giving additional force to the request by motioning the 
bearer to the door, he had nothing for it but to make his 
bow and leave the house. And in the street, poor Trotty 
pulled his worn old hat down on his head, to hide the grief 
he felt at getting no hold on the New Year, anywhere. 

He didn't even lift his hat to look up at the Bell tower 
when he came to the old church on his return. He halted 
there a moment, from habit : and knew that it was growing 
dark, and that the steeple rose above him, indistinct and 
faint, in the murky air. He knew, too, that the Chimes 
would ring immediately ; and that they sounded to his fancy, 
at such a time, like voices in the clouds. But he only made 



THE COUNTRYMAN AND HIS CHILD. 141 

the more haste to deliver the Alderman's letter, and get 
out of the way before they began ; for he dreaded to hear 
them tagging "Friends and Fathers, Friends and Fathers," 
to the burden they had rung out last. 

Toby discharged himself of his commission, therefore, with 
all possible speed, and set off trotting homeward. But what 
with his pace, which was at best an awkward one in the 
street; and what with his hat, which didn't improve it; he 
trotted against somebody in less than no time, and was sent 
staggering out into the road. 

" I beg your pardon, I'm sure ! " said Trotty, pulling up 
his hat in great confusion, and between the hat and the torn 
lining, fixing his head into a kind of bee-hive. " I hope I 
haven't hurt you. 11 

As to hurting anybody, Toby was not such an absolute 
Samson, but that he was much more likely to be hurt him- 
self: and indeed, he had flown out into the road, like a 
shuttlecock. He had such an opinion of his own strength, 
however, that he was in real concern for the other party : and 
said again, 

" I hope I haven't hurt you ? " 

The man against whom he had run; a sun-browned, 
sinewy, country-looking man, with grizzled hair, and a rough 
chin ; stared at him for a moment, as if he suspected him to 
be in jest. But, satisfied of his good faith, he answered : 

" No, friend. You have not hurt me."" 

" Nor the child, I hope ? " said Trotty. 

"Nor the child," returned the man. "I thank you 
kindly." 

As he said so, he glanced at a little girl he carried in his 
arms, asleep : and shading her face with the long end of the 
poor handkerchief he wore about his throat, went slowly on. 

The tone in which he said "I thank you kindly," pene- 
trated Trotty 's heart. He was so jaded and foot-sore, and 
so soiled with travel, and looked about him so forlorn and 
strange, that it was a comfort to him to be able to thank 



142 THE CHIMES. 

any one : no matter for how little. Toby stood gazing after 
him as he plodded wearily away, with the child's arm cling- 
ing round his neck. 

At the figure in the worn shoes now the very shade and 
ghost of shoes rough leather leggings, common frock, and 
broad slouched hat, Trotty stood gazing, blind to the whole 
street. And at the child's arm, clinging round its neck. 

Before he merged into the darkness the traveller stopped ; 
and looking round, and seeing Trotty standing there yet, 
seemed undecided whether to return or go on. After doing 
first the one and then the other, he came back, and Trotty 
went half-way to meet him. 

"You can tell me, perhaps," said the man with a faint 
smile, "and if you can I am sure you will, and I'd rather 
ask you than another where Alderman Cute lives.'" 

" Close at hand," replied Toby. " I'll show you his house 
with pleasure." 

"I was to have gone to him elsewhere to-morrow," said 
the man, accompanying Toby, " but I'm uneasy under sus- 
picion, and want to clear myself, and to be free to go and 
seek my bread I don't know where. So, maybe he'll forgive 
my going to his house to-night." 

"It's impossible," cried Toby with a start, "that your 
name's Fern !" 

"Eh!" cried the other, turning on him in astonishment. 

" Fern ! Will Fern ! " said Trotty. 

"That's my name," replied the other. 

"Why then," cried Trotty, seizing him by the arm, and 
looking cautiously round, "for Heaven's sake don't go to 
him! Don't go to him! He'll put you down as sure as 
ever you were born. Here ! come up this alley, and I'll tell 
you what I mean. Don't go to him.'" 

His new acquaintance looked as if he thought him mad ; 
but he bore him company nevertheless. When they were 
shrouded from observation, Trotty told him what he knew, 
and what character he had received, and all about it. 



TROTTY VECK AND WILL FERN. 143 

The subject of his history listened to it with a calmness 
that surprised him. He did not contradict or interrupt it, 
once. He nodded his head now and then more in cor- 
roboration of an old and worn-out story, it appeared, than 
in refutation of it ; and once or twice threw back his hat, 
and passed his freckled hand over a brow, where every furrow 
he had ploughed seemed to have set its image in little. But 
he did no more. 

" It's true enough in the main," he said, " master, I could 
sift grain from husk here and there, but let it be as "'tis. 
What odds? I have gone against his plans; to my mis- 
fortun'. I can't help it; I should do the like to-morrow. 
As to character, them gentlefolks will search and search, and 
pry and pry, and have it as free from spot or speck in us, 
afore they'll help us to a dry good word ! Well ! I hope 
they don't lose good opinion as easy as we do, or their lives 
is strict indeed, and hardly worth the keeping. For myself, 
master, I never took with that hand " holding it before 
him " what wasn't my own ; and never held it back from 
work, however hard, or poorly paid. Whoever can deny it, 
let him chop it oft'! But when work won't maintain mo 
like a human creetur; when my living is so bad, that I am 
Hungry, out of doors and in ; when I see a whole working 
life begin that way, go on that way, and end that way, with- 
out a chance or change ; then I say to the gentlefolks * Keep 
away from me ! Let my cottage be. My doors is dark 
enough without your darkening of 'em more. Don't look for 
me to come up into the Park to help the show when there's 
a Birthday, or a fine Speechmaking, or, what not. Act your 
Plays and Games without me, and be welcome to 'em, and 
enjoy 'em. We've nowt to do with one another. I'm best 
let alone ! ' " 

Seeing that the child in his arms had opened her eyes, and 
was looking about her in wonder, he checked himself to say a 
word or two of foolish prattle in her ear, and stand her on 
the ground beside him. Then slowly winding one of her long 



144 THE CHIMES. 

tresses round and round his rough forefinger like a ring, 
while she hung about his dusty leg, he said to Trotty : 

"I'm not a cross-grained man by natur', I believe; and 
easy satisfied, I'm sure. I bear no ill-will against none of 
'em. I only want to live like one of the Almighty's creeturs. 
I can't I don't and so there's a pit dug between me, and 
them that can and do. There's others like me. You might 
tell 'em off by hundreds and by thousands, sooner than 
by ones." 

Trotty knew he spoke the Truth in this, and shook his 
head to signify as much. 

" I've got a bad name this way," said Fern ; " and I'm not 
likely, I'm afeared, to get a better. Tan't lawful to be out 
of sorts, and I AM out of sorts, though God knows I'd sooner 
bear a cheerful spirit if I could. Well ! I don't know as this 
Alderman could hurt me much by sending me to jail ; but 
without a friend to speak a word for me, he might do it ; and 
you see ! " pointing downward with his finger, at the child. 

" She has a beautiful face," said Trotty. 

" Why yes ! " replied the other in a low voice, as he gently 
turned it up with both his hands towards his own, and looked 
upon it steadfastly. "I've thought so, many times. I've 
thought so, when my hearth was very cold, and cupboard 
very bare. I thought so t'other night, when we were taken 
like two thieves. But they they shouldn't try the little 
face too often, should they, Lilian ? That's hardly fair upon 
a man ! " 

He sunk his voice so low, and gazed upon her with an air 
so stern and strange, that Toby, to divert the current of his 
thoughts, inquired if his wife were living. 

" I never had one," he returned, shaking his head. " She's 
my brother's child : a orphan. Nine year old, though you'd 
hardly think it ; but she's tired and worn out now. They'd 
have taken care on her, the Union eight-and-twenty mile 
away from where we live between four walls (as they took 
care of my old father when he couldn't work no more, though 



TROTTY'S HOSPITALITY. 145 

ho didn't trouble 'em long) ; but I took her instead, and she's 
lived with me ever since. Her mother had a friend once, in 
London here. We are trying to find her, and to find work 
too ; but it's a large place. Never mind. More room for us 
to walk about in, Lilly ! " 

Meeting the child's eyes with a smile which melted Toby 
more than tears, he shook him by the hand. 

" I don't so much as know your name," he said, " but I've 
opened my heart free to you, for I'm thankful to you ; with 
good reason. I'll take your advice, and keep clear of this 

"Justice," suggested Toby. 

" Ah ! " he said. " If that's the name they give him. This 
Justice. And to-morrow will try whether there's better 
fortun' to be met with, somewheres near London. Good 
night. A Happy New Year ! " 

" Stay ! " cried Trotty, catching at his hand, as he relaxed 
his grip. " Stay ! The New Year never can be happy to 
me, if we part like this. The New Year never can be happy 
to me, if I see the child and you go wandering away, you 
don't know where, without a shelter for your heads. Come 
home with me ! I'm a poor man, living in a poor place ; but 
I can give you lodging for one night and never miss it. Come 
home with me ! Here ! I'll take her ! " cried Trotty, lifting 
up the child. " A pretty one ! I'd carry twenty times her 
weight, and never know I'd got it. Tell me if I go too 
quick for you. I'm very fast. I always was ! " Trotty said 
this, taking about six of his trotting paces to one stride of 
his fatigued companion ; and with his thin legs quivering 
again, beneath the load he bore. 

" Why, she's as light," said Trotty, trotting in his speech 
as well as in his gait ; for he couldn't bear to be thanked, 
and dreaded a moment's pause; "as light as a feather. 
Lighter than a Peacock's feather a great deal lighter. Here 
we are and here we go ! Round this first turning to the 
right, Uncle Will, and past the pump, and sharp off' up the 
passage to the left, right opposite the public-house. Here 



146 THE CHIMES. 

we are and here we go ! Cross over, Uncle Will, and mind 
the kidney pieman at the comer ! Here we are and here we 
go! Down the Mews here, Uncle Will, and stop at the 
black door, with * T. Veck, Ticket Porter, 1 wrote upon a 
board; and here we are and here we go, and here we are 
indeed, my precious Meg, surprising you ! " 

With which words Trotty, in a breathless state, set the 
child down before his daughter in the middle of the floor. 
The little visitor looked once at Meg ; and doubting nothing 
in that face, but trusting everything she saw there ; ran into 
her arms. 

" Here we are and here we go ! " cried Trotty, running 
round the room, and choking audibly. " Here, Uncle Will, 
here's a fire you know ! Why don't you come to the fire ? 
Oh here we are and here we go ! Meg, my precious darling, 
whereas the kettle ? Here it is and here it goes, and it'll bile 
in no time ! " 

Trotty really had picked up the kettle somewhere or other 
in the course of his wild career, and now put it on the fire : 
while Meg, seating the child in a warm corner, knelt down 
on the ground before her, and pulled off her shoes, and dried 
her wet feet on a cloth. Ay, and she laughed at Trotty too 

so pleasantly, so cheerfully, that Trotty could have blessed 

her where she kneeled ; for he had seen that, when they 

entered, she was sitting by the fire in tears. 

" Why, father ! " said Meg. " You're crazy to-night, I 

think. I don't know what the Bells would say to that. Poor 

little feet. How cold they are ! " 

" Oh, they're warmer now ! " exclaimed the child. " They're 

quite warm now ! " 

"No, no, no," said Meg. "We haven't rubbed 'em half 

enough. We're so busy. So busy ! And when they're done, 

we'll brush out the damp hair; and when that's done, we'll 

bring some colour to the poor pale face with fresh water; 

and when that's done, we'll be so gay, and brisk, and 

happy ! " 



TROTTY'S LITTLE ARTIFICE. 147 

The child, in a burst of sobbing, clasped her round the 
neck ; caressed her fair cheek with its hand ; and said, " Oh 
Meg ! oh dear Meg ! " 

Toby's blessing could have done no more. Who could 
do more ! 

" Why, father ! " cried Meg, after a pause. 

" Here I am and here I go, my dear ! " said Trotty. 

" Good Gracious me ! " cried Meg. " He's crazy ! He's 
put the dear child's bonnet on the kettle, and hung the lid 
behind the door ! " 

"I didn't go for to do it, my love," said Trotty, hastily 
repairing this mistake. "Meg, my dear? 11 

Meg looked towards him and saw that he had elaborately 
stationed himself behind the chair of their male visitor, where 
with many mysterious gestures he was holding up the six- 
pence he had earned. 

"I see, my dear," said Trotty, "as I was coming in, half 
an ounce of tea lying somewhere on the stairs ; and I'm pretty 
sure there was a bit of bacon too. As I don't remember 
where it was exactly, I'll go myself and try to find 'em." 

With this inscrutable artifice, Toby withdrew to purchase 
the viands he had spoken of, for ready money, at Mrs. 
Chickenstalker's ; and presently came back, pretending he had 
not been able to find them, at first, in the dark. 

" But here they are at last," said Trotty, setting out the 
tea-things, " all correct ! I was pretty sure it was tea, and a 
rasher. So it is. Meg, my pet, if you'll just make the tea, 
while your unworthy father toasts the ,bacon, we shall be 
ready, immediate. It's a curious circumstance," said Trotty, 
proceeding in his cookery, with the assistance of the toasting- 
fork, "curious, but well known to my friends, that I never 
care, myself, for rashers, nor for tea. I like to see other 
people enjoy 'em," said Trotty, speaking very loud, to impress 
the fact upon his guest, "but to me, as food, they're dis- 
agreeable." 

Yet Trotty sniffed the savour of the hissing bacon ah ! 



148 THE CHIMES. 

as if he liked it ; and when he poured the boiling water in 
the tea-pot, looked lovingly down into the depths of that 
snug cauldron, and suffered the fragrant steam to curl about 
his nose, and wreathe his head and face in a thick cloud. 
However, for all this, he neither ate nor drank, except at 
the very beginning, a mere morsel for form's sake, which he 
appeared to eat with infinite relish, but declared was perfectly 
uninteresting to him. 

No. Trotty's occupation was, to see Will Fern and Lilian 
eat and drink ; and so was Meg's. And never did spectators 
at a city dinner or court banquet find such high delight in 
seeing others feast : although it were a monarch or a pope : 
as those two did, in looking on that night. Meg smiled 
at Trotty, Trotty laughed at Meg. Meg shook her head, 
and made belief to clap her hands, applauding Trotty ; Trotty 
conveyed, in dumb-show, unintelligible narratives of how 
and when and where he had found their visitors, to Meg ; 
and they were happy. Very happy. 

" Although," thought Trotty, sorrowfully, as he watched 
Meg's face ; that match is broken off, I see ! " 

"Now, 111 tell you what," said Trotty after tea. "The 
little one, she sleeps with Meg, I know." 1 

" With good Meg ! " cried the child, caressing her. " With 
Meg." 

"That's right," said Trotty. "And I shouldn't wonder 
if she kiss Meg's father, won't she ? Pm Meg's father." 

Mightily delighted Trotty was, when the child went timidly 
towards him, and having kissed him, fell back upon Meg 
again. 

" She's as sensible as Solomon," said Trotty. " Here we 
come and here we no, we don't I don't mean that I 
what was I saying, Meg, my precious ? " 

Meg looked towards their guest, who leaned upon her 
chair, and with his face turned from her, fondled the child's 
head, half hidden in her lap. 

" To be sure," said Toby. To be sure ! I don't know 






A NEW HEART FOR A NEW YEAR! 149 

what I'm rambling on about, to-night. My wits are wool- 
gathering, I think. Will Fern, you come' along with me. 
You're tired to death, and broken down for want of rest. 
You come along with me."" 

The man still played with the child's curls, still leaned 
upon Meg's chair, still turned away his face. He didn't 
speak, but in his rough coarse fingers, clenching and ex- 
panding in the fair hair of the child, there was an eloquence 
that said enough. 

" Yes, yes," said Trotty, answering unconsciously what he 
saw expressed in his daughter's face. " Take her with you, 
Meg. Get her to bed. There ! Now, Will, I'll show 'you 
where you lie. It's not much of a place: only a loft; but, 
having a loft, I always say, is one of the great conveniences 
of living in a mews ; and till this coach-house and stable 
gets a better let, we live here cheap. There's plenty of 
sweet hay up there, belonging to a neighbour; and it's as 
clean as hands, and Meg, can make it. Cheer up ! Don't 
give way. A new heart for a New Year, always ! V 

The hand released from the child's hair, had fallen, trem- 
bling, into Trotty 's hand. So Trotty, talking without inter- 
mission, led him out as tenderly and easily as if he had 
been a child himself. 

Returning before Meg, he listened for an instant at the 
door of her little chamber ; an adjoining room. The child 
was murmuring a simple Prayer before lying down to sleep ; 
and when she had remembered Meg's name, " Dearly, Dearly "" 
so her words ran Trotty heard her stop and ask for his. 

It was some short time before the foolish little old fellow 
could compose himself to mend the fire, and draw his chair 
to the warm hearth. But, when he had done so, and had 
trimmed the light, he took his newspaper from his pocket, 
and began to read. Carelessly at first, and skimming up and 
down the columns ; but with an earnest and a sad attention, 
very soon. 

For this same dreaded paper re-directed Trotty 's thoughts 



150 THE CHIMES. 

into the channel they had taken all that day, and which the 
day's events had so marked out and shaped. His interest 
in the two wanderers had set him on another course of think- 
ing, and a happier one, for the time ; but being alone again, 
and reading of the crimes and violences of the people, he 
relapsed into his former train. 

In this mood, he came to an account (and it was not the 
first he had ever read) of a woman who had laid her 
desperate hands not only on her own life but on that of her 
young child. A crime so terrible, and so revolting to his 
soul, dilated with the love of Meg, that he let the journal 
drop, and fell back in his chair, appalled ! 

" Unnatural and cruel ! " Toby cried. " Unnatural and 
cruel ! None but people who were bad at heart, born bad, 
who had no business on the earth, could do such deeds. 
It's too true, all I've heard to-day; too just, too full of 
proof. We're Bad ! " 

The Chimes took up the words so suddenlv burst out 
so loud, and clear, and sonorous that the Bells seemed to 
strike him in his chair. 

And what was that, they said ? 

" Toby Veck, Toby Veck, waiting for you Toby ! Toby 
Veck, Toby Veck, waiting for you Toby ! Come and see 
us, come and see us, Drag him to us, drag him to us, Haunt 
and hunt him, haunt and hunt him, Break his slumbers, 
break his slumbers ! Toby Veck Toby Veck, door open wide 
Toby, Toby Veck Toby Veck, door open wide Toby " then 
fiercely back to their impetuous strain again, and ringing in 
the very bricks and plaster on the walls. 

Toby listened. Fancy, fancy ! His remorse for having 
run away from them that afternoon ! No, no. Nothing of 
the kind. Again, again, and yet a dozen times again. 
" Haunt and hunt him, haunt and hunt him, Drag him to 
us, drag him to us ! " Deafening the whole town ! 

" Meg," said Trotty softly : tapping at her door. " Do 
you hear anything ? " 



TROTTY'S BEWILDERMENT. 151 

"I hear the Bells, father. Surely they're very loud to- 
night.' 1 

** Is she asleep ? " said Toby, making an excuse for peep- 
ing in. 

" So peacefully and happily ! I can't leave her yet though, 
father. Look how she holds my hand ! " 

" Meg," whispered Trotty. " Listen to the Bells ! " 

She listened, with her face towards him all the time. But 
it underwent no change. She didn't understand them. 

Trotty withdrew, resumed his seat by the fire, and once 
more listened by himself. He remained here a little time. 

It was impossible to bear it : their energy was dreadful. 

" If the tower-door is really open," said Toby, hastily lay- 
ing aside his apron, but never thinking of his hat, " what's 
to hinder me from going up into the steeple and satisfying 
myself? If it's shut, I don't want any other satisfaction. 
That's enough." 

He was pretty certain as he slipped out quietly into the 
street that he should find it shut and locked, for he knew 
the door well, and had so rarely seen it open, that he couldn't 
reckon above three times in all. It was a low arched portal, 
outside the church, in a dark nook behind a column ; and 
had such great iron hinges, and such a monstrous lock, that 
there was more hinge and lock than door. 

But what was his astonishment when, coming bare-headed 
to the church ; and putting his hand into this dark nook, 
with a certain misgiving that it might be unexpectedly seized, 
and a shivering propensity to draw it back again ; he found 
that the door, which opened outwards, actually stood ajar ! 

He thought, on the first surprise, of going back ; or of 
getting a light, or a companion, but his courage aided him 
immediately, and he determined to ascend alone. 

" AVhat 'have I to fear ? " said Trotty. " It's a church ! 
Besides, the ringers may be there, and have forgotten to shut 
the door." 

So he went in, feeling his way as he went, like a blind 



152 



THE CHIMES. 



And very quiet, for the Chimes 



man ; for it was very dark, 
were silent. 

The dust from the street had blown into the recess; and 

lying there, 
heaped up, 
made it so soft 
and velvet-like 
to the foot, 
that there was 
something 
startling, even 
in that. The 
narrow stair 
was so close 
to the door, 
too, that he 
stumbled at 

: "W r the very first ; 

and shutting 

the door upon himself, by 
striking it with his foot, and causing 
it to rebound back heavily, -he 
couldn't open it again. 

This was another reason, how- 
ever, for going on. Trotty groped 
his way, and went on. Up, up, up, 
and round, and round ; and up, up, 
up ; higher, higher, higher up ! 

It was a disagreeable staircase 
for that groping work ; so low and 
narrow, that his groping hand was 
always touching something ; and it 
often felt so like a man or ghostly 

figure standing up erect and making room for him to pass 
without discovery, that he would rub the smooth wall upward 
searching for its face, and downward searching for its feet, 




TROTTY IN THE BELFRY. 153 

while a chill tingling crept all over him. Twice or thrice, a 
door or niche broke the monotonous surface ; and then it 
seemed a gap as wide as the whole church; and he felt on 
the brink of an abyss, and going to tumble headlong down, 
until he found the wall again. 

Still up, up, up ; and round and round ; and up, up, up ; 
higher, higher, higher up ! 

At length, the dull and stifling atmosphere began to freshen : 
presently to feel quite windy : presently it blew so strong, 
that he could hardly keep his legs. But, he got to an arched 
window in the tower, breast high, and holding tight, looked 
down upon the house-tops, on the smoking chimneys, on the 
blurr and blotch of lights (towards the place where Meg was 
wondering where he was and calling to him perhaps), all 
kneaded up together in a leaven of mist and darkness. 

This was the belfry, where the ringers came. He had 
caught hold of one of the frayed ropes which hung down 
through apertures in the oaken roof. At first he started, 
thinking it was hair; then trembled at the very thought of 
waking the deep Bell. The Bells themselves were higher. 
Higher, Trotty, in his fascination, or in working out the spell 
upon him, groped his way. By ladders now, and toilsomely, 
for it was steep, and not too certain holding for the feet. 

Up, up, up ; and climb and clamber ; up, up, up ; higher, 
higher, higher up ! 

Until, ascending through the floor, and pausing with his 
head just raised above its beams, he came among the Bells. 
It was barely possible to make out their great shapes in the 
gloom ; but there they were. Shadowy* and dark, and dumb. 

A heavy sense of dread and loneliness fell instantly upon 
him, as he climbed into this airy nest of stone and metal. 
His head went round and round. He listened, and then 
raised a wild " Holloa ! " 

Holloa ! was mournfully protracted by the echoes. 

Giddy, confused, and out of breath, and frightened, Toby 
looked about him vacantly, and sunk down in a swoon. 




LACK are the brooding 
clouds and troubled the 
deep waters, when the Sea 
of Thought, first heaving from 
a calm, gives up its Dead. 
Monsters uncouth and wild, 
arise in premature, im- 
perfect resurrection ; 
the several 

parts and 

* 

shapes of dif- 

ferent things 

are joined and mixed by chance ; and when, and ho\v, and 
by what wonderful degrees, each separates from each, and 
every sense and object of the mind resumes its usual form 
and lives again, no man though every man is every day the 
casket of this type of the Great Mystery can tell. 



THE SPIRITS OF THE BELLS. 155 

So, when and how the darkness of the night-black steeple 
changed to shining light; when and how the solitary tower 
was peopled with a myriad figures ; when and how the 
whispered " Haunt and hunt him," breathing monotonously 
through his sleep or swoon, became a voice exclaiming in the 
waking ears of Trotty, " Break his slumbers ; v when and how 
he ceased to have a sluggish and confused idea that such 
things were, companioning a host of others that were not ; 
there are no dates or means to tell. But, awake and stand- 
ing on his feet upon the boards where he had lately lain, he 
saw this Goblin Sight. 

He saw the tower, whither his charmed footsteps had 
brought him, swarming with dwarf phantoms, spirits, elfin 
creatures of the Bells. He saw them leaping, flying, dropping, 
pouring from the Bells without a pause. He saw them, 
round him on the ground ; above him, in the air ; clambering 
from him, by the ropes below ; looking down upon him, from 
the massive iron-girded beams ; peeping in upon him, through 
the chinks and loopholes in the walls ; spreading away and 
away from him in enlarging circles, as the water ripples give 
way to a huge stone that suddenly comes plashing in among 
them. He saw them, of all aspects and all shapes. He saw 
them ugly, handsome, crippled, exquisitely formed. He saw 
them young, he saw them old, he saw them kind, he 
saw them cruel, he saw them merry, he saw them grim; 
he saw them dance, and heard them sing; he saw them tear 
their hair, and heard them howl. He saw the air thick with 
them. He saw them come and go, incessantly. He saw 
them riding downward, soaring upward, sailing off' afar, 
perching near at hand, all restless and all violently active. 
Stone, and brick, and slate, and tile, became transparent to 
him as to them. He saw them in the houses, busy at the 
sleepers' beds. He saw them soothing people in their dreams : 
he saw them beating them with knotted whips ; he saw them 
yelling in their ears; he saw them playing softest music on 
their pillows ; he saw them cheering some with the songs of 



15 6 THE CHIMES. 

birds and the perfume of flowers ; he saw them flashing awful 
faces on the troubled rest of others, from enchanted mirrors 
which they carried in their hands. 

He saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but 
wakino- also, active in pursuits irreconcilable with one another, 
and possessing or assuming natures the most opposite. He 
saw one buckling on innumerable wings to increase his speed ; 
another loading himself with chains and weights, to retard 
his. He saw some putting the hands of clocks forward, some 
putting the hands of clocks backward, some endeavouring 
to stop the clock entirely. He saw them representing, here 
a marriage ceremony, there a funeral; in this chamber an 
election, in that a ball; he saw, everywhere, restless and 
untiring motion. 

Bewildered by the host of shifting and extraordinary figures, 
as well as by the uproar of the Bells, which all this while 
were ringing, Trotty clung to a wooden pillar for support, 
and turned his white face here and there, in mute and 
stunned astonishment. 

As he gazed, the Chimes stopped. Instantaneous change : 
The whole swarm fainted ! their forms collapsed, their speed 
deserted them ; they sought to fly, but in the act of falling 
died and melted into air. No fresh supply succeeded them. 
One straggler leaped down pretty briskly from the surface of 
the Great Bell, and alighted on his feet, but he was dead 
and gone before he could turn round. Some few of the late 
company who had gambolled in the tower, remained there, 
spinning over and over a little longer; but these became at 
every turn more faint, and few, and feeble, and soon went 
the way of the rest. The last of all was one small hunchback, 
who had got into an echoing corner, where he twirled and 
twirled, and floated by himself a long time ; showing such 
perseverance, that at last he dwindled to a leg and even to 
a foot, before he finally retired ; but he vanished in the end, 
and then the tower was silent. 

Then and not before, did Trotty see in every Bell a 



TROTTY SEIZED WITH FEAR. 157 

bearded figure of the bulk and stature of the Bell incom- 
prehensibly, a figure and the Bell itself. Gigantic, grave, and 
darkly watchful of him, as he stood rooted to the ground. 

Mysterious and awful figures ! Resting on nothing ; poised 
in the night air of the tower, with their draped and hooded 
heads merged in the dim roof; motionless and shadowy. 
Shadowy and dark, although he saw them by some light 
belonging to themselves none else was there each with its 
muffled hand upon its goblin mouth. 

He could not plunge down wildly through the opening in 
the floor ; for all power of motion had deserted him. Other- 
wise he would have done so aye, would have thrown him- 
self, headforemost, from the steeple-top, rather than have 
seen them watching him with eyes that would have waked 
and watched although the pupils had been taken out. 

Again, again, the dread and terror of the lonely place, 
and of the wild and fearful night that reigned there, 
touched him like a spectral hand. His distance from all 
help; the long, dark, winding, ghost- beleaguered way that 
lay between him and the earth on which men lived ; his being 
high, high, high, up there, where it had made him dizzy to 
see the birds fly in the day; cut off from all good people, 
who at such an hour were safe at home and sleeping in their 
beds ; all this struck coldly through him, not as a reflection 
but a bodily sensation. Meantime his eyes and thoughts 
and fears, were fixed upon the watchful figures; which, 
rendered unlike any figures of this world by the deep gloom 
and shade enwrapping and enfolding them, as well as by 
their looks and forms and supernatural hovering above the 
floor, were nevertheless as plainly to be seen as were the 
stalwart oaken frames, cross-pieces, bars and beams, set up 
there to support the Bells. These hemmed them, in a very 
forest of hewn timber; from the entanglements, intricacies, 
and depths of which, as from among the boughs of a dead 
wood blighted for their phantom use, they kept their dark- 
some and unwinking watch. 



158 THE CHIMES. 

A blast of air how cold and shrill ! came moaning 
through the tower. As it died away, the Great Bell, or the 
Goblin of the Great Bell, spoke. 

" What visitor is this ! " it said. The voice was low and 
deep, and Trotty fancied that it sounded in the other figures 
as well. 

"I thought my name was called by the Chimes! 11 said 
Trotty, raising his hands in an attitude of supplication. " I 
hardly know why I am here, or how I came. I have listened to 
the Chimes these many years. They have cheered me often. 11 , 

"And you have thanked them?" 1 said the Bell. 

" A thousand times ! 11 cried Trotty. 

" How ? " 

"I am a poor man, 1 ' faltered Trotty, "and could only 
thank them in words. 11 

"And always so? 11 inquired the Goblin of the Bell. 
" Have you never done us wrong in words ? " 

" No ! " cried Trotty eagerly. 

" Never done us foul, and false, and wicked wrong, in 
words? 11 pursued the Goblin of the Bell. 

Trotty was about to answer, "Never! 11 But he stopped, 
and was confused. 

"The voice of Time, 11 said the Phantom, "cries to man, 
Advance ! Time is for his advancement and improvement ; 
for his greater worth, his greater happiness, his better life ; 
his progress onward to that goal within its knowledge and 
its view, and set there, in the period when Time and He 
began. Ages of darkness, wickedness, and violence, have 
come and gone millions uncountable, have suffered, lived, 
and died to point the way before him. Who seeks to turn 
him back, or stay him on his course, arrests a mighty engine 
which will strike the meddler dead ; and be the fiercer and 
the wilder, ever, for its momentary check ! " 

" 1 never did so to my knowledge, sir, 11 said Trotty. " It 
was quite by accident if I did. I wouldn't go to do it, I'm 
sure." 



WHAT THE BELLS SAID. 159 

"Who puts into the mouth of Time, or of its servants," 
said the Goblin of the Bell, "a cry of lamentation for days 
which have had their trial and their failure, and have left 
deep traces of it which the blind may see a cry that only 
serves the present "time, by showing men how much it needs 
their help when any ears can listen to regrets for such a past 
who does this, does a wrong. And you have done that 
wrong, to us, the Chimes."" 

Trotty's first excess of fear was gone. But he had felt 
tenderly and gratefully towards the Bells, as you have seen; 
and when he heard himself arraigned as one who had offended 
them so weightily, his heart was touched with penitence and 
grief. 

" If you knew," said Trotty, clasping his hands earnestly 
" or perhaps you do know if you know how often you have 
kept me company ; how often you have cheered me up when 
I've been low ; how you were quite the plaything of my 
little daughter Meg (almost the only one she ever had) when 
first her mother died, and she and me were left alone; you 
won't bear malice for a hasty word ! " 

" Who hears in us, the Chimes, one note bespeaking dis- 
regard, or stern regard, of any hope, or joy, or pain, or 
sorrow, of the many-sorrowed throng; who hears us make 
response to any creed that gauges human passions and 
affections, as it gauges the amount of miserable food on 
which humanity may pine and wither ; does us wrong. That 
wrong you have done us ! " said the Bell. 

" I have ! " said Trotty. " Oh forgive me ! " 

" Who hears us echo the dull vermjm of the earth : the 
Putters Down of crushed and broken natures, formed to be 
raised up higher than such maggots of the time can crawl or 
can conceive, 1 ' pursued the Goblin of the Bell ; " who does so, 
does us wrong. And you have done us wrong ! " 

" Not meaning it," said Trotty. " In my ignorance. Not 
meaning it ! " 

" Lastly, and most of nil," pursued the Bell. Who turns 



160 THE CHIMES. 

his back upon the fallen and disfigured of his kind ; abandons 
them as vile ; and does not trace and track with pitying eyes 
the unfenced precipice by which they fell from good grasp- 
ing in their fall some tufts and shreds of that lost soil, and 
clinging to them still when bruised and dying in the gulf 
below; does wrong to Heaven and man, to time and to 
eternity. And you have done that wrong ! " 

"Spare me," cried Trotty, falling on his knees; "for 
Mercy's sake ! " 

" Listen ! " said the Shadow. 

" Listen ! " cried the other Shadows. 

" Listen ! " said a clear and childlike voice, which Trotty 
thought he recognised as having heard before. 

The organ sounded faintly in the church below. Swelling 
by degrees, the melody ascended to the roof, and filled the 
choir and nave. Expanding more and more, it rose up, up ; 
up, up; higher, higher, higher up; awakening agitated hearts 
within the burly piles of oak, the hollow bells, the iron-bound 
doors, the stairs of solid stone; until the tower walls were 
insufficient to contain it, and it soared into the sky. 

No wonder that an old man's breast could not contain a 
sound so vast and mighty. It broke from that weak prison 
in a rush of tears ; and Trotty put his hands before his face. 

" Listen ! " said the Shadow. 

*' Listen ! " said the other Shadows. 

" Listen ! " said the child's voice. 

A solemn strain of blended voices, rose into the tower. 

It was a very low and mournful strain a Dirge and as 
he listened, Trotty heard his child among the singers. 

" She is dead ! " exclaimed the old man. " Meg is dead ! 
Her Spirit calls to me. I hear it ! " 

" The Spirit of your child bewails the dead, and mingles 
with the dead dead hopes, dead fancies, dead imaginings of 
youth," returned the Bell, "but she is living. Learn from 
her life, a living truth. Learn from the creature dearest to 
your heart, how bad the bad are born. See every bud and 



THE CHANGES OF NINE YEARS. 161 

leaf plucked one by one from off the fairest stem, and know 
how bare and wretched it may be. Follow her ! To despera- 
tion ! " 

Each of the shadowy figures stretched its right arm forth, 
and pointed downward. 

"The Spirit of the Chimes is your companion," said the 
figure. " Go ! It stands behind you ! " 

Trotty turned, and saw the child ! The child Will Fern 
had carried in the street ; the child \vhom Meg had watched, 
but now, asleep ! 

" I carried her myself, to-night, 11 said Trotty. " In these 
arms ! " 

" Show him what he calls himself," said the dark figures, 
one and all. 

The tower opened at his feet. He looked down, and be- 
held his own form, lying at the bottom, on the outside: 
crushed and motionless. 

" No more a living man ! " cried Trotty. " Dead ! " 

" Dead ! " said the figures all together. 

" Gracious Heaven ! And the New Year " 

"Past," said the figures. 

" What ! " he cried, shuddering. " I missed my way, and 
coming on the outside of this tower in the dark, fell down 
a year ago ? " 

" Nine years ago ! " replied the figures. 

As they gave the answer, they recalled their outstretched 
hands; and where their figures had been, there the Bells 
were. 

And they rung ; their time being come again. And once 
again, vast multitudes of phantoms sprung into existence; 
once again, were incoherently engaged, as they had been 
before; once again, faded on the stopping of the Chimes; 
and dwindled into nothing. 

"What are these?" he asked his guide. "If I am not 
mad, what are these ? " 

" Spirits of the Bells. Their sound upon the air," returned 



162 THE CHIMES. 

the child. "They take such shapes and occupations as the 
hopes and thoughts of mortals, and the recollections they 
have stored up, give them." 

" And you," said Trotty wildly. " What are you ?" 

"Hush, hush! 1 ' returned the child. "Look here!" 

In a poor, mearr room ; working at the same kind of 
embroidery which he had often, often seen before her; Meg, 
his own dear daughter, was presented to his view. He made 
no effort to imprint his kisses on her face ; he did not strive 
to clasp her to his loving heart; he knew that such endear- 
ments were, for him, no more. But, he held his trembling 
breath, and brushed away the blinding tears, that he might 
look upon her; that he might only see her. 

Ah ! Changed. Changed. The light of the clear eye, 
how dimmed. The bloom, how faded from the cheek. 
Beautiful she was, as she had ever been, but Hope, Hope, 
Hope, oh where was the fresh Hope that had spoken to him 
like a voice ! 

She looked up from her work, at a companion. Following 
her eyes, the old man started back. 

In the woman grown, he recognised her at a glance. In 
the long silken hair, he saw the self-same curls ; around the 
lips, the child's expression lingering still. See! In the 
eyes, now turned inquiringly on Meg, there shone the very 
look that scanned those features when he brought her home ! 

Then what was this, beside him ! 

Looking with awe into its face, he saw a something reign- 
ing there : a lofty something, undefined and indistinct, which 
made it hardly more than a remembrance of that child as 
yonder figure might be yet it was the same : the same : and 
wore the dress. 

Hark. They were speaking ! 

"Meg," said Lilian, hesitating. "How often you raise 
your head from your work to look at me ! " 

"Are my looks so altered, that they frighten you?" asked 
Meg. 



LILIAN AND MEG. 163 

"Nay, dear! But you smile at that, yourself! Why not 
smile, when you look at me, Meg ? " 

" I do so. Do I not ? " she answered : smiling on her. 

" Now you do," said Lilian, " but not usually. When you 
think I'm busy, and don't see you, you look so anxious and 
so doubtful, that I hardly like to raise my eyes. There is 
little cause for smiling in this hard and toilsome life, but you 
were once so cheerful." 

" Am I not now ! " cried Meg, speaking in a tone of strange 
alarm, and rising to embrace her. "Do / make our weary 
life more weary to you, Lilian ! " 

"You have been the only thing that made it life,"" said 
Lilian, fervently kissing her ; " sometimes the only thing that 
made me care to live so, Meg. Such work, such work ! So 
many hours, so many days, so many long, long nights of 
hopeless, cheerless, never-ending work not to heap up riches, 
not to live grandly or gaily, not to live upon enough, how- 
ever coarse ; but to earn bare bread ; to scrape together just 
enough to toil upon, and want upon, and keep alive in us the 
consciousness of our hard fate ! Oh Meg, Meg ! " she raised 
her voice and twined her arms about her as she spoke, like 
one in pain. " How can the cruel world go round, and bear 
to look upon such lives ! " 

" Lilly ! " said Meg, soothing her, and putting back her hair 
from her wet face. " Why, Lilly ! You ! So pretty and so 
young ! " 

" Oh Meg ! " she interrupted, holding her at armVlength, 
and looking in her face imploringly. "The worst of all, the 
worst of all ! Strike me old, Meg ! Wither me, and shrivel 
me, and free me from the dreadful thoughts that tempt me 
in my youth ! " 

Trotty turned to look upon his guide. But the Spirit of 
the child had taken flight. Was gone. 

Neither did he himself remain in the same place ; for, Sir 
Joseph Bowley, Friend and Father of the Poor, held a great 
festivity at Bowley Hall, in honour of the natal day of Lady 



164 THE CHIMES. 

Bowley. And as Lady Bowley had been born on New Year's 
Day (which the local newspapers considered an especial 
pointing of the finger of Providence to number One, as Lady 
Bowley's destined figure in Creation), it was on a New Year's 
Day that this festivity took place. 

Bowley Hall was full of visitors. The red-faced gentleman 
was there, Mr. Filer was there, the great Alderman Cute was 
there Alderman Cute had a sympathetic feeling with great 
people, and had considerably improved his acquaintance with 
Sir Joseph Bowley on the strength of his attentive letter: 
indeed had become quite a friend of the family since then 
and many guests were there. Trotty's ghost was there, 
wandering about, poor phantom, drearily; and looking for 
its guide. 

There was to be a great dinner in the Great Hall. At 
which Sir Joseph Bowley, in his celebrated character of 
Friend and Father of the Poor, was to make his great speech. 
Certain plum-puddings were to be eaten by his Friends and 
Children in another Hall first ; and, at a given signal, Friends 
and Children flocking in among their Friends and Fathers, 
were to form a family assemblage, with not one manly eye 
therein unmoistened by emotion. 

But, there was more than this to happen. Even more 
than this. Sir Joseph Bowley, Baronet and Member of 
Parliament, was to play a match at skittles real skittles 
with his tenants ! 

" Which quite reminds me," said Alderman Cute, " of the 
days of old King Hal, stout King Hal, bluff King Hal. Ah. 
Fine character ! " 

"Very, 11 said Mr. Filer, dryly. "For marrying women 
and murdering 'em. Considerably more than the average 
number of wives by the bye. 11 

"You'll marry the beautiful ladies, and not murder "em, 
eh ? " said Alderman Cute to the heir of Bowley, aged twelve. 
"Sweet boy ! We shall have this little gentleman in Parlia- 
ment now, 11 said the Alderman, holding him by the shoulders, 



WHERE IS RICHARD? 165 

and looking as reflective as he could, " before we know where 
we are. We shall hear of his successes at the poll; his 
speeches in the House ; his overtures from Governments ; his 
brilliant achievements of all kinds; ah! we shall make our 
little orations about him in the Common Council, Til be 
bound ; before we have time to look about us ! " 

"Oh, the difference of shoes and stockings!"" Trotty 
thought. But his heart yearned towards the child, for the 
love of those same shoeless and stockingless boys, predestined 
(by the Alderman) to turn out bad, who might have been 
the children of poor Meg. 

"Richard,"" moaned Trotty, roaming among the company, 
to and fro ; " where is he ? I can't find Richard ! Where is 
Richard ? " 

Not likely to be there, if still alive ! But Trott/s grief 
and solitude confused him ; and he still went wandering 
among the gallant company, looking for his guide, and 
saying, " Where is Richard ? Show me Richard ! " 

He was wandering thus, when he encountered Mr. Fish, 
the confidential Secretary : in great agitation. 

" Bless my heart and soul ! " cried Mr. Fish. " Where's 
Alderman Cute ? Has anybody seen the Alderman ? " 

Seen the Alderman ? Oh dear ! Who could ever help 
seeing the Alderman ? He was so considerate, so affable, he 
bore so much in mind the natural desires of folks to see 
him, that if he had a fault, it was the being constantly On 
View. And wherever the great people were, there, to be sure, 
attracted by the kindred sympathy between great souls, was 
Cute. 

Several voices cried that he was in 'the circle round Sir 
Joseph. Mr. Fish made way there; found him; and took 
him secretly into a window near at hand. Trotty joined 
them. Not of his own accord. He felt that his steps were 
led in that direction. 

"My dear Alderman Cute," said Mr. Fish. "A little 
more this way. The most dreadful circumstance has occurred. 



166 THE CHIMES. 

I have this moment received the intelligence. I think it will 
be best not to acquaint Sir Joseph with it till the day is 
over. You understand Sir Joseph, and will give me your 
opinion. The most frightful and deplorable event ! " 

" Fish ! " returned the Alderman. " Fish ! My good 
fellow, what is the matter? Nothing revolutionary, I hope! 
No no attempted interference with the magistrates ? " 

"Deedles, the banker," gasped the Secretary. "Deedles 
Brothers who was to have been here to-day high in office 
in the Goldsmiths' Company 

" Not stopped ! " exclaimed the Alderman. "It can't be ! " 

"Shot himself." 

" Good God ! " 

"Put a double-barrelled pistol to his mouth, in his own 
counting house," said Mr. Fish, "and blew his brains out. 
No motive. Princely circumstances ! " 

" Circumstances ! " exclaimed the Alderman. " A man of 
noble fortune. One of the most respectable of men. Suicide, 
Mr. Fish ! By his own hand ! " 

"This very morning, 1 ' returned Mr. Fish. 

" Oh the brain, the brain ! " exclaimed the pious Alderman, 
lifting up his hands. "Oh the nerves, the nerves; the 
mysteries of this machine called Man ! Oh the little that 
unhinges it : poor creatures that we are ! Perhaps a dinner, 
Mr. Fish. Perhaps the conduct of his son, who, I have 
heard, ran very Avild, and was in the habit of drawing bills 
upon him without the least authority ! A most respectable 
man. One of the most respectable men I ever knew ! A 
lamentable instance, Mr. Fish. A public calamity ! I shall 
make a point of wearing the deepest mourning. A most re- 
spectable man ! But there is One above. We must submit, 
Mr. Fish. We must submit!" 

What, Alderman! No word of Putting Down? Re- 
member, Justice, your high moral boast and pride. Come, 
Alderman! Balance those scales. Throw me into this, the 
empty one, no dinner, and Nature's founts in some poor 



NEW YEAR'S DAY AT BOWLEY HALL. 167 

woman, dried by starving misery and rendered obdurate to 
claims for which her offspring has authority in holy mother 
Eve. Weigh me the two, you Daniel, going to judgment, 
when your day shall come ! Weigh them, in the eyes of 
suffering thousands, audience (not unmindful) of the grim farce 
you play. Or supposing that you strayed from your five 
wits it's not so far to go, but that it might be and laid 
hands upon that throat of yours, warning your fellows (if 
you have a fellow) how they croak their comfortable wicked- 
ness to raving heads and stricken hearts. What then ? 

The words rose up in Trotty's breast, as if they had been 
spoken by some other voice within him. Alderman Cute 
pledged himself to Mr. Fish that he would assist him in 
breaking the melancholy catastrophe to Sir Joseph when the 
day was over. Then, before they parted, wringing Mr. 
Fish's hand in bitterness of soul, he said, " The most respect- 
able of men ! " And added that he hardly knew (not even 
he), why such afflictions were allowed on earth. 

" It's almost enough to make one think, if one didn't know 
better," said Alderman Cute, "that at times some motion of 
a capsizing nature was going on in things, which affected the 
general economy of the social fabric. Deedles Brothers ! " 

The skittle-playing came off with immense success. Sir 
Joseph knocked the pins about quite skilfully; Master 
Bowley took an innings at a shorter distance also ; and every- 
body said that now, when a Baronet and the Son of a 
Baronet played at skittles, the country was coming round 
again, as fast as it could come. 

At its proper time, the Banquet was served up. Trotty 
involuntarily repaired to the Hall with' the rest, for he felt 
himself conducted thither by some stronger impulse than his 
own free will. The sight was gay in the extreme ; the ladies 
were very handsome; the visitors delighted, cheerful, and 
good-tempered. When the lower doors were opened, and 
the people flocked in, in their rustic dresses, the beauty of 
the spectacle was at its height; but Trotty only murmured 



168 THE CHIMES. 

more and more, " Where is Richard ! He should help and 
comfort her ! I can't see Richard ! " 

There had been some speeches made ; and Lady Bow lev's 
health had been proposed ; and Sir Joseph Bowley had 
returned thanks, and had made his great speech, showing 
by various pieces of evidence that he was the born Friend 
and Father, and so forth ; and had given as a Toast, his 
Friends and Children, and the Dignity of Labour ; when a 
slight disturbance at the bottom of the Hall attracted Toby's 
notice. After some confusion, noise, and opposition, one man 
broke through the rest, and stood forward by himself. 

Not Richard. No. But one whom he had thought of, and 
had looked for, many times. In a scantier supply of light, 
he might have doubted the identity of that worn man, so 
old, and grey, and bent; but with a blaze of lamps upon his 
gnarled and knotted head, he knew Will Fern as soon as he 
stepped forth. 

" What is this ! " exclaimed Sir Joseph, rising. " Who 
gave this man admittance ? This is a criminal from prison ! 
Mr. Fish, sir, will you have the goodness " 

"A minute!" said Will Fern. "A minute! My Lady, 
you was born on this day along with a New Year. Get me 
a minute's leave to speak." 

She made some intercession for him. Sir Joseph took his 
seat again, with native dignity. 

The ragged visitor for he was miserably dressed looked 
round upon the company, and made his homage to them 
with a humble bow. 

"Gentlefolks!" he said. "You've drunk the Labourer. 
Look at me ! " 

" Just come from jail," said Mr. Fish. 

"Just come from jail," said Will. "And neither for the 
first time, nor the second, nor the third, nor yet the fourth." 

Mr. Filer was heard to remark testily, that four times was 
over the average ; and he ought to be ashamed of himself. 

" Gentlefolks ! " repeated Will Fern. " Look at me ! You 



WILL FERN'S COTTAGE. 169 

see Tin at the worst Beyond all hurt or harm ; beyond 
your help ; for the time when your kind words or kind 
actions could have done ME good," he struck his hand upon 
his breast, and shook his head, "is gone, with the scent of 
last year's beans or clover on the air. Let me say a word 

for these," 
pointing to 
the labouring 
people in the 
Hall; "and 
when you're 
met together, 
hear the real 
Truth spoke 
out for once." 
"There's not 
a man here," 

said the host, " who would have him 
for a spokesman." 

" Like enough, Sir Joseph. I believe 
it. Not the less true, perhaps, is what 
I say. Perhaps that's a proof on it. 
Gentlefolks, I've lived many a year in 
this place. You may see the cottage 
from the sunk fence over yonder. I've 
seen the ladies draw it in their books, 
a hundred times. It looks well in a 
picter, I've heerd say ; but there an't 
weather in picters, and maybe 'tis fitter 
for that, than for a place to live in. 
Well ! I lived there. How hard how 
bitter hard, I lived there, I won't say. Any day in the year, 
and every day, you can judge for your own selves." 

He spoke as he had spoken on the night when Trotty 
found him in the street. His voice was deeper and more 
husky, and had a trembling in it now and then ; but he never 




170 THE - CHIMES. 

raised it passionately, and seldom lifted it above the firm stern 
level of the homely facts he stated. 

"Tis harder than you think for, gentlefolks, to grow up 
decent, commonly decent, in such a place. That I growed 
up a man and not a brute, says something for me as I was 
then. As I am now, there's nothing can be said for me or 
done for me. I'm past it." 

"I am glad this man has entered," observed Sir Joseph, 
looking round serenely. " Don't disturb him. It appears to 
be Ordained. He is an example : a living example. I hope 
and trust, and confidently expect, that it will not be lost 
upon my Friends here." 

"I dragged on," said Fern, after a moment's silence, 
" somehow. Neither me nor any other man knows how ; but 
so heavy, that I couldn't put a cheerful face upon it, or 
make believe that I was anything but what I was. Now, 
gentlemen you gentlemen that sits at Sessions when you 
see a man with discontent writ on his face, you says to one 
another, 'He's suspicious. I has my doubts,' says you, 
* about Will Fern. Watch that fellow ! ' I don't say,* gentle- 
men, it ain't quite nat'ral, but I say 'tis so; and from that 
hour, whatever Will Fern does, or lets alone all one it 
goes against him. 1 ' 

Alderman Cute stuck his thumbs in his waistcoat-pockets, 
and leaning back in his chair, and smiling, winked at a 
neighbouring chandelier. As much as to say, " Of course ! 
I told you so. The common cry ! Lord bless you, we are 
up to all this sort of thing myself and human nature." 

" Now, gentlemen," said Will Fern, holding out his hands, 
and flushing for an instant in his haggard face, "see how 
your laws are made to trap and hunt us when we're brought 
to this. I tries to live elsewhere. And I'm a vagabond. To 
jail with him ! I comes back here. I goes a-nutting in your 
woods, and breaks who don't? a limber branch or two. 
To jail with him ! One of your keepers sees me in the 
broad day, near my own patch of garden, with a gun. To 



THE LABOURER RETURNS THANKS. 171 

jail with him ! I has a natural angry word with that man, 
when I'm free again. To jail with him ! I cuts a stick. 
To jail with him ! I eats a rotten apple or a turnip. To 
jail with him ! It's twenty mile away ; and coming back I 
begs a trifle on the road. To jail with him ! At last, the 
constable, the keeper anybody finds me anywhere, a-doing 
anything. To jail with him, for he's a vagrant, and a jail- 
bird known ; and jail's the only home he's got." 

The Alderman nodded sagaciously, as who should say, "A 
very good home too ! " 

" Do I say this to serve MY cause ! " cried Fern. " Who 
can give me back my liberty, who can give" me back my 
good name, who can give me back my innocent niece? Not 
all the Lords and Ladies in wide England. But, gentlemen, 
gentlemen, dealing with other men like me, begin at the light 
end. Give us, in mercy, better homes when we're a-lying 
in our cradles ; give us better food when we're a- working 
for our lives ; give us kinder laws to bring us back when 
we're a-going wrong; and don't set Jail, Jail, Jail, afore us, 
everywhere we turn. There an't a condescension you can 
show the Labourer then, that he won't take, as ready and 
as grateful as a man can be; for, he has a patient, peaceful, 
willing heart. But you must put his rightful spirit in him 
first ; for, whether he's a wreck and ruin such as me, or is 
like one of them that stand here now, his spirit is divided 
from you at this time. Bring it back, gentlefolks, bring it 
back ! Bring it back, afore the day comes when even his 
Bible changes in his altered mind, and the words seem to 
him to read, as they have sometimes read in my own eyes 
in Jail: 'Whither thou goest, I can Not go; where thou 
lodgest, I do Not lodge; thy people are Not my people; 
Nor thy God my God ! " 

A sudden stir and agitation took place in the Hall. 
Trotty thought at first, that several had risen to eject the 
man ; and hence this change in its appearance. But, another 
moment showed him that the room and all the company had 



172 



THE CHIMES. 



vanished from his sight, and that his daughter was again 
before him, seated at her work. But in a poorer, meaner 
garret than before ; and with no Lilian by her side. 

The frame 
at which she 
had worked, 
was put away 
upon a shelf 
and covered 
up. The chair 
in which she 
had sat, was 
turned against 
the wall. A 
history was 

/- written in these little things, 
and in Meg's grief-worn face. 
Oh ! who could fail to read it ! 

Meg strained her eyes upon 
her work until it was too dark 
- to see the threads ; and when 
the night closed in, she 
lighted her feeble candle and 
worked on. Still her old 
father was invisible about 
her ; looking down upon 
her ; loving her how 
dearly loving her ! 
and talking to 
her in a tender 
voice about 
the old times, 
and the Bells. 

1 hough he knew, poor Trotty, though he knew she could 
not hear him. 

A great part of the evening had worn away, when a knock 




RICHARD AT LAST! 173 

came at her door. She opened it. A man was on the 
threshold. A slouching, moody, drunken sloven, wasted by 
intemperance and vice, and with his matted hair and unshorn 
beard in wild disorder; but, with some traces on him, too, 
of having been a man of good proportion and good features 
in his youth. 

He stopped until he had her leave to enter; and she, 
retiring a pace or two from the open door, silently and 
sorrowfully looked upon him. Trotty had his wish. He saw 
Richard. 

"May I come in, Margaret?" 

" Yes ! Come in. Come in ! " 

It was well that Trotty knew him before he spoke ; for with 
any doubt remaining on his mind, the harsh discordant voice 
would have persuaded him that it was not Richard but some 
other man. 

There were but two chairs in the room. She gave him 
hers, and stood at some short distance from him, waiting to 
hear what he had to say. 

He sat, however, staring vacantly at the floor; with a 
lustreless and stupid smile. A spectacle of such deep degra- 
dation, of such abject hopelessness, of such a miserable down- 
fall, that she put her hands before her face and turned away, 
lest he should see how much it moved her. 

Roused by the rustling of her dress, or some such trifling 
sound, he lifted his head, and began to speak as if there had 
been no pause since he entered. 

" Still at work, Margaret ? You work late." 

" I generally do." 

"And early?" 

"And early." 

" So she said. She said you never tired ; or never owned 
that you tired. Not all the time you lived together. Not 
even when you fainted, between work and fasting. But I 
told you that, the last time I came." 

" You did," she answered. " And I implored you to tell 



174 THE CHIMES. 

me nothing more ; and you made me a solemn promise, 
Richard, that you never would." 

"A solemn promise," he repeated, with a drivelling laugh 
and vacant stare. "A solemn promise. To be sure. A 
solemn promise ! " Awakening, as it were, after a time ; in 
the same manner as before ; he said with sudden animation : 

" How can I help it, Margaret ? What am I to do ? She 
has been to me again ! " 

" Again ! " cried Meg, clasping her hands. " O, does she 
think of me so often ! Has she been again ! " 

" Twenty times again,"" said Richard. " Margaret, she 
haunts me. She comes behind me in the street, and thrusts 
it in my hand. I hear her foot upon the ashes when I'm at 
my work (ha, ha ! that an't often), and before I can turn my 
head, her voice is in my ear, saying, 'Richard, don't look 
round. For Heaven's love, give her this ! ' She brings it 
where I live ; she sends it in letters ; she taps at the window 
and lays it on the sill. What can I do ? Look at it ! " 

He held out in his hand a little purse, and chinked the 
money it enclosed. 

" Hide it," said Meg. " Hide it ! When she comes again, 
tell her, Richard, that I love her in my soul. That I never 
lie down to sleep, but I bless her, and pray for her. That, 
in my solitary work, I never cease to have her in my 
thoughts. That she is with me, night and day. That if I 
died to-morrow, I would remember her with my last breath. 
But, that I cannot look upon it ! " 

He slowly recalled his hand, and crushing the purse 
together, said with a kind of drowsy thoughtfulness : 

"I told her so. I told her so, as plain as words could 
speak. I've taken this gift back and left it at her door, a 
dozen times since then. But when she came at last, and 
stood before me, face to face, what could I do ? " 

"You saw her!" exclaimed Meg. "You saw her! O, 
Lilian, my sweet girl ! O, Lilian, Lilian ! " 

"I saw her," he went on to say, not answering, but 



LILIAN'S GIF! 1 TO MARGARET. 175 

engaged in the same slow pursuit of his own thoughts. 
" There she stood : trembling ! ' How does she look, Richard ? 
Does she ever speak of me? Is she thinner? My old place 
at the table : what's in my old place ? And the frame she 
taught me our old work on has she burnt it, Richard ! ' 
There she was. I heard her say it."" 

Meg checked her sobs, and with the tears streaming from 
her eyes, bent over him to listen. Not to lose a breath. 

With his arms resting on his knees ; and stooping forward 
in his chair, as if what he said were written on the ground 
in some half legible character, which it was his occupation to 
decipher and connect; he went on. 

" ' Richard, I have fallen very low ; and you may guess how 
much I have suffered in having this sent back, when I can 
bear to bring it in my hand to you. But you loved her 
once, even in my memory, dearly. Others stepped in between 
you ; fears, and jealousies, and doubts, and vanities, estranged 
you from her ; but you did love her, even in my memory ! ' 
I suppose I did," he said, interrupting himself for a moment. 
" I did ! That's neither here nor there. * O Richard, if you 
ever did ; if you have any memory for what is gone and lost, 
take it to her once more. Once more ! Tell her how I laid 
my head upon your shoulder, where her own head might have 
lain, and was so humble to you, Richard. Tell her that you 
looked into my face, and saw the beauty which she used to 
praise, all gone : all gone : and in its place, a poor, wan, 
hollow cheek, that she would weep to see. Tell her every- 
thing, and take it back, and she will not refuse again. She 
will not have the heart ! ' " 

So he sat musing, and repeating the last words, until he 
woke again, and rose. 

"You won't take it, Margaret?" 

She shook her head, and motioned an entreaty to him to 
leave her. 

" Good night, Margaret." 

"Good night!" 



176 THE CHIMES. 

He turned to look upon her; struck by her sorrow, and 
perhaps by the pity for himself which trembled in her voice. 
It was a quick and rapid action ; and for the moment some 
flash of his old bearing kindled in his form. In the next he 
went as he had come. Nor did this glimmer of a quenched 
fire seem to light him to a quicker sense of his debasement. 

In any mood, in any grief, in any torture of the mind or 
body, Meg's work must be done. She sat down to her task, 
and plied it. Night, midnight. Still she worked. 

She had a meagre fire, the night being very cold ; and rose 
at intervals to mend it. The Chimes rang half-past twelve 
while she was thus engaged ; and when they ceased she heard 
a gentle knocking at the door. Before she could so much 
as wonder who was there, at that unusual hour, it opened. 

O Youth and Beauty, happy as ye should be, look at this. 
O Youth and Beauty, blest and blessing all within your reach, 
and working out the ends of your Beneficent Creator, look at 
this! 

She saw the entering figure ; screamed its name ; cried 
" Lilian ! " 

It was swift, and fell upon its knees before her : clinging 
to her dress. 

" Up, dear ! Up ! Lilian ! My own dearest ! " 

"Never more, Meg; never more! Here! Here! Close 
to you, holding to you, feeling your dear breath upon 
my face ! " 

" Sweet Lilian ! Darling Lilian ! Child of my heart no 
mother's love can be more tender lay your head upon my 
breast ! " 

"Never more, Meg. Never more! When I first looked 
into your face, you knelt before me. On my knees before 
you, let me die. Let it be here ! " 

"You have come back. My Treasure! We will live 
together, work together, hope together, die together ! " 

"Ah! Kiss my lips, Meg; fold your arms about me; 
press me to your bosom ; look kindly on me ; but don't raise 



LILIAN DIES. 177 

me. Let it be here. Let me see the last of your dear face 
upon my knees ! " 

O Youth and Beauty, happy as ye should be, look at 
this ! O Youth and Beauty, working out the ends of your 
Beneficent Creator, look at this ! 

" Forgive me, Meg ! So dear, so dear ! Forgive me ! I 
know you do, I see you do, but say so, Meg ! " 

She said so, with her lips on Lilian's cheek. And with her 
arms twined round she knew it now a broken heart. 

" His blessing on you, dearest love. Kiss me once more ! 
He suffered her to sit beside His feet, and dry them with her 
hair. O Meg, what Mercy and Compassion ! " 

As she died, the Spirit of the child returning, innocent and 
radiant, touched the old mac with its hand, and beckoned 
him away. 




OME new remembrance of the 
ghostly figures in the Bells ; 
some faint impression of the 
ringing of the Chimes; some 
giddy consciousness of having seen the 
swarm of phantoms reproduced and 
reproduced until the recollection of 
them lost itself in the confusion of 
their numbers ; some hurried know- 
ledge, how 
conveyed to 
him he knew 
not, that 
more years 
had passed ; 
and Trotty, 
with tlie 
Spirit of the 
child attend- 
ing him, stood 
looking on at mortal company. 

Fat company, rosy-cheeked company, comfortable company. 
They were but two, but they were red enough for ten. They 



A COSY COUPLE. 179 

sat before a bright fire, with a small low table between them ; 
and unless the fragrance of hot tea and muffins lingered 
longer in that room than in most others, the table had seen 
service very lately. But all the cups and saucers being clean, 
and in their proper places in the corner-cupboard ; and the 
brass toasting-fork hanging in its usual nook and spreading 
its four idle fingers out as if it wanted to be measured for a 
glove; there remained no other visible tokens of the meal 
just finished, than such as purred and washed their whiskers 
in the person of the basking cat, and glistened in the gracious, 
not to say the greasy, faces of her patrons. 

This cosy couple (married, evidently) had made a fair 
division of the fire between them, and sat looking at the 
glowing sparks that dropped into the grate ; now nodding oft* 
into a doze ; now waking up again when some hot fragment, 
larger than the rest, came rattling down, as if the fire were 
coming with it. 

It was in no danger of sudden extinction, however; for it 
gleamed not only in the little room, and on the panes of 
window-glass in the door, and on the curtain half drawn 
across them, but in the little shop beyond. A little shop, 
quite crammed and choked with the abundance of its stock ; 
a perfectly voracious little shop, with a maw as accommodating 
and full as any shark's. Cheese, butter, firewood, soap, pickles, 
matches, bacon, table-beer, peg-tops, sweetmeats, boys' kites, 
bird-seed, cold ham, birch brooms, hearth-stones, salt, vinegar, 
blacking, red-herrings, stationery, lard, mushroom-ketchup, 
staylaces, loaves of bread, shuttlecocks, eggs, and slate pencil ; 
everything was fish that came to the net of this greedy little 
shop, and all articles were in its net. How many other kinds 
of petty merchandise were there, it would be difficult to say ; 
but balls of packthread, ropes of onions, pounds of candles, 
cabbage-nets, and brushes, hung in bunches from the ceiling, 
like extraordinary fruit ; while various odd canisters emitting 
aromatic smells, established the veracity of the inscription 
over the outer door, which informed the public that the 



180 THE CHIMES. 

keeper of this little shop was a licensed dealer in tea, coffee, 
tobacco, pepper, and snuff. 

Glancing at such of these articles as were visible in the 
shining of the blaze, and the less cheerful radiance of two 
smoky lamps which burnt but dimly in the shop itself, as 
though its plethora sat heavy on their lungs ; and glancing, 
then, at one of the two faces by the parlour-fire ; Trotty had 
small difficulty in recognising in the stout old lady, Mrs. 
Chickenstalker : always inclined to corpulency, even in the 
days when he had known her as established in the general 
line, and having a small balance against him in her books. 

The features of her companion were less easy to him. The 
great broad chin, with creases in it large enough to hide a 
finger in ; the astonished eyes, that seemed to expostulate with 
themselves for sinking deeper and deeper into the yielding 
fat of the soft face ; the nose afflicted with that disordered 
action of its functions which is generally termed The Snuffles ; 
the short thick throat and labouring chest, with other beauties 
of the like description; though calculated to impress the 
memory, Trotty could at first allot to nobody he had ever 
known : and yet he had some recollection of them too. At 
length, in Mrs. Chickenstalker's partner in the general line, 
and in the crooked and eccentric line of life, he recognised 
the former porter of Sir Joseph Bowley ; an apoplectic inno- 
cent, who had connected himself in Trotty's mind with Mrs. 
Chickenstalker years ago, by giving him admission to the 
mansion where he had confessed his obligations to that lady, 
and drawn on his unlucky head such grave reproach. 

Trotty had little interest in a change like this, after the 
changes he had seen; but association is very strong some- 
times ; and he looked involuntarily behind the parlour-door, 
where the accounts of credit customers were usually kept in 
chalk. There was no record of his name. Some names were 
there, but they were strange to him, and infinitely fewer than 
of old ; from which he argued that the porter was an advo- 
cate of ready-money transactions, and on coming into the 



MR. AND MRS. TUGBY. 181 

business had looked pretty sharp after the Chickenstalker 
defaulters. 

So desolate was Trotty, and so mournful for the youth and 
promise of his blighted child, that it was a sorrow to him, 
even to have no place in Mrs. Chickenstalker's ledger. 

" What sort of a night is it, Anne ? " inquired the former 
porter of Sir Joseph Bowley, stretching out his legs before 
the fire, and rubbing as much of them as his short arms could 
reach ; with an air that added, " Here I am if it's bad, and 
I don't want to go out if it's good." 

"Blowing and sleeting hard," returned his wife; "and 
threatening snow. Dark. And very cold." 

" I'm glad to think we had muffins," said the former porter, 
in the tone of one who had set his conscience at rest. " It's 
a sort of night that's meant for muffins. Likewise crumpets. 
Also Sally Lunns." 

The former porter mentioned each successive kind of eat- 
able, as if he were musingly summing up his good actions. 
After which he rubbed his fat legs as before, and jerking 
them at the knees to get the fire upon the yet unroasted 
parts, laughed as if somebody had tickled him. 

" You're in spirits, Tugby, my dear," observed his wife. 

The firm was Tugby, late Chickenstalker. 

"No," said Tugby. "No. Not particular. I'm a little 
elewated. The muffins came so pat ! " 

With that he chuckled until he was black in the face ; and 
had so much ado to become any other colour, that his fat 
legs took the strangest excursions into the air. Nor were 
they reduced to anything like decorum until Mrs. Tugby had 
thumped him violently on the back, and shaken him as if he 
were a great bottle. 

" Good gracious, goodness, lord-a-mercy bless and save the 
man!" cried Mrs. Tugby, in great terror. "What's he 
doing ? " 

Mr. Tugby wiped his eyes, and faintly repeated that he 
found himself a little elewated. 



182 THE CHIMES. 

"Then don't be so again, that's a dear good soul, 11 said 
Mrs. Tugby, "if you don't want to frighten me to death, 
with your struggling and fighting ! " 

Mr. Tugby said he wouldn't; but, his whole existence was 
a fight, in which, if any judgment might be founded on the 
constantly-increasing shortness of his breath, and the deepen- 
ing purple of his face, he was always getting the worst of it. 

" So it's blowing, and sleeting, and threatening snow ; and 
it's dark, and very cold, is it, my dear?" said Mr. Tugby, 
looking at the fire, and reverting to the cream and marrow 
of his temporary elevation. 

" Hard weather indeed," returned his wife, shaking her head. 

"Aye, aye! Years," said Mr. Tugby, "are like Christians 
in that respect. Some of 'em die hard ; some of 'em die easy. 
This one hasn't many days to run, and is making a fight for 
it. I like him all the better. There's a customer, my love ! " 

Attentive to the rattling door, Mrs. Tugby had already 
risen. 

" Now then ! " said that lady, passing out into the little 
shop. "What's wanted? Oh! I beg your pardon, sir, I'm 
sure. I didn't think it was you." 

She made this apology to a gentleman in black, who, with 
his wristbands tucked up, and his hat cocked loungingly on 
one side, and his hands in his pockets, sat down astride on 
the table-beer barrel, and nodded in return. 

"This is a bad business up-stairs, Mrs. Tugby," said the 
gentleman. "The man can't live." 

" Not the back-attic can't ! " cried Tugby, coming out into 
the shop to join the conference. 

"The back-attic, Mr. Tugby," said the gentleman, " is 
coming down-stairs fast, and will be below the basement 
very soon." 

Looking by turns at Tugby and his wife, he sounded the 
barrel with his knuckles for the depth of beer, and having 
found it, played a tune upon the empty part. 

" The back-attic, Mr. Tugby," said the gentleman : Tugby 



MR. TUGBY'S BACK-ATTIC GOING. 183 

having stood in silent consternation for some time: "is 
Going." 

"Then," said Tugby, turning to his wife, "he must Go, 
you know, before he's Gone. 1 ' 

" I don't think you can move him, 11 said the gentleman, 
shaking his head. "I wouldn't take the responsibility of 
saying it could be done, myself. You had better leave him 
where he is. He can't live long." 

"It's the only subject, 1 ' said Tugby, bringing the butter- 
scale down upon the counter with a crash, by weighing his 
fist on it, " that we've ever had a word upon ; she and me ; 
and look what it comes to ! He's going to die here, after 
all. Going to die upon the premises. Going to die in our 
house ! " 

" And where should he have died, Tugby ? " cried his wife. 

" In the workhouse," he returned. " What are workhouses 
made for?" 

" Not for that," said Mrs. Tugby, with great energy. " Not 
for that ! Neither did I marry you for that. Don't think 
it, Tugby. I won't have it. I won't allow it. I'd be 
separated first, and never see your face again. When my 
widow's name stood over that door, as it did for many years : 
this house being known as Mrs. Chickenstalker's far and wide, 
and never known but to its honest credit and its good report : 
when my widow's name stood over that door, Tugby, I knew 
him as a handsome, steady, manly, independent youth; I 
knew her as the sweetest-looking, sweetest-tempered girl, eyes 
ever saw ; I knew her father (poor old creetur, he fell down 
from the steeple walking in his sleep, and killed himself), for 
the simplest, hardest- working, childest-hearted man, that ever 
drew the breath of life ; and when I turn them out of house 
and home, may angels turn me out of Heaven. As they 
would ! And serve me right ! " 

Her old face, which had been a plump and dimpled one 
before the changes which had come to pass, seemed to shine 
out of her as she said these words ; and when she dried her 






184 THE CHIMES. 

eyes, and shook her head and her handkerchief at Tugby, 
with an expression of firmness which it was quite clear was 
not to be easily resisted, Trotty said, " Bless her ! Bless her ! " 

Then he listened, with a panting heart, for what should 
follow. Knowing nothing yet, but that they spoke of Meg. 

If Tugby had been a little elevated in the parlour, he more 
than balanced that account by being not a little depressed 
in the shop, where he now stood staring at his wife, without 
attempting a reply ; secretly conveying, however either in 
a fit of abstraction or as a precautionary measure all the 
money from the till into his own pockets, as he looked at her. 

The gentleman upon the table-beer cask, who appeared to 
be some authorised medical attendant upon the poor, was far 
too well accustomed, evidently, to little differences of opinion 
between man and wife, to interpose any remark in this 
instance. He sat softly whistling, and turning little drops 
of beer out of the tap upon the ground, until there was 
a perfect calm : when he raised his head, and said to Mrs. 
Tugby, late Chickenstalker : 

" There's something interesting about the woman, even now. 
How did she come to marry him ? " 

"Why that," said Mrs. Tugby, taking a seat near him, 
" is not the least cruel part of her story, sir. You see they 
kept company, she and Richard, many years ago. When they 
were a young and beautiful couple, everything was settled, 
and they were to have been married on a New Year's Day. 
But, somehow, Richard got it into his head, through what 
the gentlemen told him, that he might do better, and that 
he'd soon repent it, and that she wasn't good enough for him, 
and that a young man of spirit had no business to be married. 
And the gentlemen frightened her, and made her melancholy, 
and timid of his deserting her, and of her children coming to 
the gallows, and of its being wicked to be man and wife, and 
a good deal more of it. And in short, they lingered and 
lingered, and their trust in one another was broken, and so 
at last was the match. But the fault was his. She would 



A SAD STORY. 185 

have married him, sir, joyfully. I've seen her heart swell 
many times afterwards, when he passed her in a proud and 
careless way; and never did a woman grieve more truly 
for a man, than she for Richard when he first went wrong." 

"Oh ! he went wrong, did he?" said the gentleman, pulling 
out the vent-peg of the table-beer, and trying to peep down 
into the barrel through the hole. 

" Well, sir, I don't know that he rightly understood him- 
self, you see. I think his mind was troubled by their having 
broke with one another; and that but for being ashamed 
before the gentlemen, and perhaps for being uncertain too, 
how she might take it, he'd have gone through any suffering 
or trial to have had Meg's promise and Meg's hand again. 
That's my belief. He never said so ; more's the pity ! He 
took to drinking, idling, bad companions : all the fine re- 
sources that were to be so much better for him than the 
Home he might have had. He lost his looks, his character, 
his health, his strength, his friends, his work : everything ! " 

" He didn't lose everything, Mrs. Tugby," returned the 
gentleman, " because he gained a wife ; and I want to know 
how he gained her." 

"I'm coming to it, sir, in a moment. This went on for 
years and years ; he sinking lower and lower ; she enduring, 
poor thing, miseries enough to wear her life away. At 
last, he was so cast down, and cast out, that no one would 
employ or notice him ; and doors were shut upon him, go 
where he would. Applying from place to place, and door to 
door; and coming for the hundredth time to one gentleman 
who had often and often tried him (he was a good workman 
to the very end) ; that gentleman, who knew his history, said, 
'I believe you are incorrigible; there is only one person in 
the world who has a chance of reclaiming you ; ask me to 
trust you no more, until she tries to do it.' Something like 
that, in his anger and vexation." 

" Ah ! " said the gentleman. " Well ? " 

"Well, sir, he went to her, and kneeled to her; said it was 



186 THE CHIMES. 

so ; said it ever had been so ; and made a prayer to her to 
save him. 11 

" And she ? Don't distress yourself, Mrs. Tugby." 

"She came to me that night to ask me about living here. 
' What he was once to me,' she said, ' is buried in a grave, 
side by side with what I was to him. But I have thought 
of this; and I will make the trial. In the hope of saving 
him ; for the love of the light-hearted girl (you remember 
her) who was to have been married on a New Year's Day; 
and for the love of her Richard.' And she said he had come 
to her from Lilian, and Lilian had trusted to him, and she 
never could forget that. So they were married ; and when 
they came home here, and I saw them, I hoped that such 
prophecies as parted them when they were young, may not 
often fulfil themselves as they did in this case, or I wouldn't 
be the makers of them for a Mine of Gold." 

The gentleman got off the cask, and stretched himself, 
observing : 

" I suppose he used her ill, as soon as they were married ? " 

" I don't think he ever did that," said Mrs. Tugby, shaking 
her head, and wiping her eyes. " He went on better for a 
short time; but, his habits were too old and strong to be 
got rid of; he soon fell back a little; and was falling fast 
back, when his illness came so strong upon him. I think he 
has always felt for her. I am sure he has. I have seen him, 
in his crying fits and tremblings, try to kiss her hand ; and 
I have heard him call her 'Meg,' and say it was her nine- 
teenth birthday. There he has been lying, now, these weeks 
and months. Between him and her baby, she has not been 
able to do her old work; and by not being able to be 
regular, she has lost it, even if she could have done it. How 
they have lived, I hardly know ! " 

"/ know," muttered Mr. Tugby; looking at the till, and 
round the shop, and at his wife ; and rolling his head with 
immense intelligence. " Like Fighting Cocks ! " 

He was interrupted by a cry a sound of lamentation 



THE BACK-ATTIC GONE. 187 

from the upper story of the house. The gentleman moved 
hurriedly to the door. 

"My friend," he said, looking back, "you needn't discuss 
whether he shall be removed or not. He has spared you 
that trouble, I believe." 

Saying so, he ran up-stairs, followed by Mrs. Tugby; 
while Mr. Tugby panted and grumbled after them at leisure : 
being rendered more than commonly short-winded by the 
weight of the till, in which there had been an inconvenient 
quantity of copper. Trotty, with the child beside him, 
floated up the staircase like mere air. 

" Follow her ! Follow her ! Follow her ! " He heard the 
ghostly voices in the Bells repeat their words as he ascended. 
" Learn it, from the creature dearest to your heart ! " 

It was over. It was over. And this was she, her father's 
pride and joy ! This haggard, wretched woman, weeping by 
the bed, if it deserved that name, and pressing to her breast, 
and hanging down her head upon, an infant. Who can tell 
how spare, how sickly, and how poor an infant ! Who can 
tell how dear ! 

" Thank God ! " cried Trotty, holding up his folded hands. 
" O, God be thanked ! She loves her child ! " 

The gentleman, not otherwise hard-hearted or indifferent 
to such scenes, than that he saw them every day, and knew 
that they were figures of no moment in the Filer sums mere 
scratches in the working of these calculations laid his hand 
upon the heart that beat no more, and listened for the 
breath, and said, "His pain is over. It's better as it is!" 
Mrs. Tugby tried to comfort her with kindness. Mr. Tugby 
tried philosophy. 

" Come, come ! " he said, with his hands in his pockets, 
"you mustn't give way, you know. That won't do. You 
must fight up. What would have become of me if 7 had 
given way when I was porter, and we had as many as six 
runaway carriage-doubles at our door in one night ! But, I 
fell back upon my strength of mind, and didn't open it!" 



188 THE CHIMES. 

Again Trotty heard the voices saying, " Follow her ! " He 
turned towards his guide, and saw it rising from him, passing 
through the air. " Follow her ! " it said. And vanished. 

He hovered round her; sat down at her feet; looked up 
into her face for one trace of her old self; listened for one 
note of her old pleasant voice. He flitted round the child : 
so wan, so prematurely old, so dreadful in its gravity, so 
plaintive in its feeble, mournful, miserable wail. He almost 
worshipped it. He clung to it as her only safeguard ; as the 
last unbroken link that bound her to endurance. He set his 
father's hope and trust on the frail baby ; watched her every 
look upon it as she held it in her arms ; and cried a thousand 
times, " She loves it ! God be thanked, she loves it ! " 

He saw the woman tend her in the night; return to her 
when her grudging husband was asleep, and all was still ; 
encourage her, shed tears with her, set nourishment before 
her. He saw the day come, and the night again ; the day, 
the night ; the time go by ; the house of death relieved of 
death ; the room left to herself and to the child ; he heard it 
moan and cry ; he saw it harass her, and tire her out, and 
when she slumbered in exhaustion, drag her back to con- 
sciousness, and hold her with its little hands upon the rack ; 
but she was constant to it, gentle with it, patient with it. 
Patient ! Was its loving mother in her inmost heart and 
soul, and had its Being knitted up with hers as when she 
carried it unborn. 

All this time, she was in want : languishing away, in dire 
and pining want. With the baby in her arms, she wandered 
here and there, in quest of occupation ; and with its thin face 
lying in her lap, and looking up in hers, did any work for 
any wretched sum; a day and night of labour for as many 
farthings as there were figures on the dial. If she had 
quarrelled with it ; if she had neglected it ; if she had looked 
upon it with a moment's hate ; if, in the frenzy of an instant, 
she had struck it ! No. His comfort was, She loved it always. 

She told no one of her extremity, and wandered abroad 



LOVE AND FEAR. 189 

in the day lest she should be questioned by her only friend : 
for any help she received from her hands, occasioned fresh 
disputes between the good woman and her husband ; and it 
was new bitterness to be the daily cause of strife and discord, 
where she owed so much. 

She loved it still. She loved it more and more. But a 
change fell on the aspect of her love. One night. 

She was singing faintly to it in its sleep, and walking to 
and fro to hush it, when her door was softly opened, and a 
man looked in. 

" For the last time," he said. 

" William Fern ! " 

" For the last time/ 1 

He listened like a man pursued : and spoke in whispers. 

"Margaret, my race is nearly run. I couldn't finish it, 
without a parting word with you. Without one grateful 
word." 

" What have you done ? " she asked : regarding him with 
terror. 

He looked at her, but gave no answer. 

After a short silence, he made a gesture with his hand, as 
if he set her question by ; as if he brushed it aside ; and said : 

" It's long ago, Margaret, now : but that night is as fresh 
in my memory as ever 'twas. We little thought, then," he 
added, looking round, "that we should ever meet like this. 
Your child, Margaret? Let me have it in my arms. Let 
me hold your child." 

He put his hat upon the floor, and took it. And he 
trembled as he took it, from head to foot'. 

"Is it a girl?" 

" Yes." 

He put his hand before its little face. 

" See how weak I'm grown, Margaret, when I want the 
courage to look at it! Let her be, a moment. I won't 
hurt her. It's long ago, but What's her name ? " 

" Margaret," she answered, quickly. 



190 THE CHIMES. 

" I'm glad of that," he said. " I'm glad of that ! " 

He seemed to breathe more freely ; and after pausing for 
an instant, took away his hand, and looked upon the infant's 
face. But covered it again, immediately. 

" Margaret ! " he said ; and gave her back the child. " It's 
Lilian's."" 

" Lilian's ! " 

" I held the same face in my arms when Lilian's mother 
died and left her." 

" When Lilian's mother died and left her ! " she repeated, 
wildly. 

" How shrill you speak ! Why do you fix your eyes upon 
me so ? Margaret ! " 

She sunk down in a chair, and pressed the infant to her 
breast, and wept over it. Sometimes, she released it from 
her embrace, to look anxiously in its face : then strained it 
to her bosom again. At those times, when she gazed upon it, 
then it was that something fierce and terrible began to mingle 
with her love. Then it was that her old father quailed. 

" Follow her ! " was sounded through the house. " Learn 
it, from the creature dearest to your heart ! " 

"Margaret," said Fern, bending over her, and kissing her 
upon the brow : " I thank you for the last time. Good night. 
Good bye ! Put your hand in mine, and tell me you'll forget 
me from this hour, and try to think the end of me was here." 
" What have you done ? " she asked again. 
"There'll be a Fire to-night," he said, removing from her. 
"There'll be Fires this winter-time, to light the dark nights, 
East, West, North, and South. When you see the distant 
sky red, they'll be blazing. When you see the distant sky 
red, think of me no more; or, if you do, remember what a 
Hell was lighted up inside of me, and think you see its flames 
reflected in the clouds. Good night. Good bye ! " 

She called to him ; but he was gone. She sat down stupe- 
fied, until her infant roused her to a sense of hunger, cold, 
and darkness. She paced the room with it the livelong 



A BLEAK NIGHT. 191 

night, hushing it and soothing it. She said at intervals,' 
"Like Lilian, when her mother died and left her!"" Why 
was her step so quick, her eye so wild, her love so fierce and 
terrible, whenever she repeated those words? 

" But, it is Love," said Trotty. " It is Love. She'll never 
cease to love it. My poor Meg ! " 

She dressed the child next morning with unusual care 
ah, vain expenditure of care upon such squalid robes ! and 
once more tried to find some means of life. It was the last 
day of the Old Year. She tried till night, and never broke 
her fast. She tried in vain. 

She mingled with an abject crowd, who tarried in the snow, 
until it pleased some officer appointed to dispense the public 
charity (the lawful charity; not that once preached upon a 
Mount), to call them in, and question them, and say to this 
one, " Go to such a place," to that one, " Come next week ; " 
to make a football of another wretch, and pass him here and 
there, from hand to hand, from house to house, until he 
wearied and lay down to die ; or started up and robbed, and 
so became a higher sort of criminal, whose claims allowed of 
no delay. Here, too, she failed. 

She loved her child, and wished to have it lying on her 
breast. And that was quite enough. 

It was night : a bleak, dark, cutting night : when, pressing 
the child close to her for warmth, she arrived outside the 
house she called her home. She was so faint and giddy, 
that she saw no one standing in the doorway until she was 
close upon it, and about to enter. Then, she recognised the 
master of the house, who had so dispdsed himself with his 
person it was not difficult as to fill up the whole entry. 

" O ! " he said softly. " You have come back ? " 

She looked at the child, and shook her head. 

" Don't you think you have lived here long enough without 
paying any rent ? Don't you think that, without any money, 
you've been a pretty constant customer at this shop, now ? " 
said Mr. Tugby. 



192 THE CHIMES. 

She repeated the same mute appeal. 

" Suppose you try and deal somewhere else," he said. " And 
suppose you provide yourself with another lodging. Come ! 
Don't you think you could manage it ? " 
'She said in a low voice, that it was very late. To-morrow. 

" Now I see what you want," said Tugby ; " and what you 
mean. You know there are two parties in this house about 
you, and you delight in setting 'em by the ears. I don't 
want any quarrels ; I'm speaking softly to avoid a quarrel ; 
but if you don't go away, I'll speak out loud, and you shall 
cause words high enough to please you. But you shan't 
come in. That I am determined." 

She put her hair back with her hand, and looked in a 
sudden manner at the sky, and the dark lowering distance. 

"This is the last night of an Old Year, and I won't carry 
ill-blood and quarrellings and disturbances into a New One, 
to please you nor anybody else," said Tugby, who was quite 
a retail Friend and Father. " I wonder you an't ashamed of 
yourself, to carry such practices into a New Year. If you 
haven't any business in the world, but to be always giving 
way, and always making disturbances between man and wife, 
you'd be better out of it. Go along with you." 

" Follow her ! To desperation ! " 

Again the old man heard the voices. Looking up, he saw 
the figures hovering in the air, and pointing where she went, 
down the dark street. 

" She loves it ! " he exclaimed, in agonised entreaty for her. 
" Chimes ! she loves it still ! " 

" Follow her ! " The shadow swept upon the track she had 
taken, like a cloud. 

He joined in the pursuit ; he kept close to her ; he looked 
into her face. He saw the same fierce and terrible expression 
mingling with her love, and kindling in her eyes. He heard 
her say, Like Lilian ! To be changed like Lilian ! " and her 
speed redoubled. 

O, for something to awaken her ! For any sight, or sound, 



LOVE AND DESPERATION. 1JW 

or scent, to call up tender recollections in a brain on fire ! 
For any gentle image of the Past, to rise before her ! 

"I was her father! I was her father!" cried the old man, 
stretching out his hands to the dark shadows flying on above. 
" Have mercy on her, and on me ! Where does she go ? 
Turn her back ! I was her father ! " 

But they only pointed to her, as she hurried on ; and said, 
" To desperation ! Learn it from the creature dearest to your 
heart ! " 

A hundred voices echoed it.* The air was made of breath 
expended in those words. He seemed to take them in, at 
every gasp he drew. They were everywhere, and not to be 
escaped. And still she hurried on ; the same light in her eyes, 
the same words in her mouth, " Like Lilian ! To be changed 
like Lilian ! " 

All at once she stopped. 

"Now, turn her back!" exclaimed the old man, tearing 
his white hair. My child ! Meg ! Turn her back ! Great 
Father, turn her back ! " 

In her own scanty shawl, she wrapped the baby warm. 
With her fevered hands, she smoothed its limbs, composed 
its face, arranged its mean attire. In her wasted arms she 
folded it, as though she never would resign it more. And 
with her dry lips, kissed it in a final pang, and last long 
agony of Love. 

Putting its tiny hand up to her neck, and holding it 
there, within her dress, next to her distracted heart, she set 
its sleeping face against her : closely, steadily, against her : 
and sped onward to the River. 

To the rolling River, swift and dim, where Winter Night 
sat brooding like the last dark thoughts of many who had 
sought a refuge there before her. Where scattered lights upon 
the banks gleamed sullen, red, and dull, as torches that were 
burning there, to show the way to Death. Where no abode 
of living people cast its shadow, on the deep, impenetrable, 
melancholy shade. 



194 THE CHIMES. 

To the River ! To that portal of Eternity, her desperate 
footsteps tended with the swiftness of its rapid waters run- 
ning to the sea. He tried to touch her as she passed him, 
going down to its dark level: but, the wild distempered 
form, the fierce and terrible love, the desperation that had 
left all human check or hold behind, swept by him like 
the wind. 

He followed her. She paused a moment on the brink, 
before the dreadful plunge. He fell down on his knees, and 
in a shriek addressed the figures in the Bells now hovering 
above them. 

"I have learnt it!" cried the old man. "From the 
creature dearest to my heart ! O, save her, save her ! " 

He could wind his fingers in her dress ; could hold it ! As 
the words escaped his lips, he felt his sense of touch return, 
and knew that he detained her. 

The figures looked down steadfastly upon him. 
" I have learnt it ! " cried the old man. " O, have mercy 
on me in this hour, if, in my love for her, so young and 
good, I slandered Nature in the breasts of mothers rendered 
desperate ! Pity my presumption, wickedness, and ignorance, 
and save her." 

He felt his hold relaxing. They were silent still. 
" Have mercy on her ! " he exclaimed, " as one in whom this 
dreadful crime has sprung from Love perverted ; from the 
strongest, deepest Love we fallen creatures know ! Think 
what her misery must have been, when such seed bears such 
fruit ! Heaven meant her to be good. There is no loving- 
mother on the earth who might not come to this, if such a 
life had gone before. O, have mercy on my child, who, even 
at this pass, means mercy to her own, and dies herself, and 
perils her immortal soul, to save it ! " 

She was in his arms. He held her now. His strength was 
like a giant's. 

" I see the Spirit of the Chimes among you ! " cried the old 
man, singling out the child, and speaking in some inspiration, 



RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR. 195 

which their looks conveyed to him. "I know that our in- 
heritance is held in store for us by Time. I know there is 
a sea of Time to rise one day, before which all who wrong 
us or oppress us will be swept away like leaves. I see it, on 
the flow ! I know that we must trust and hope, and neither 
doubt ourselves, nor doubt the good in one another. I have 
learnt it from the creature dearest to my heart. I clasp her 
in my arms again. O Spirits, merciful and good, I take 
your lesson to my breast along with her ! O Spirits, merciful 
and good, I am grateful ! " 

He might have said more ; but, the Bells, the old familiar 
Bells, his own dear, constant, steady friends, the Chimes, 
began to ring the joy-peals for a New Year: so lustily, so 
merrily, so happily, so gaily, that he leapt upon his feet, 
and broke the spell that bound him. 

"And whatever you do, father," said Meg, "don't eat 
tripe again, without asking some doctor whether it's likely 
to agree with you ; for how you have been going on, Good 
gracious ! " 

She was working with her needle, at the little table by the 
fire; dressing her simple gown with ribbons for her wedding. 
So quietly happy, so blooming and youthful, so full of 
beautiful promise, that he uttered a great cry as if it were 
an Angel in his house ; then flew to clasp her in his arms. 

But, he caught his feet in the newspaper, which had fallen 
on the hearth ; and somebody came rushing in between 
them. 

" No ! " cried the voice of this same somebody ; a generous 
and jolly voice it was! "Not even you. Not even you. 
The first kiss of Meg in the New Year is mine. Mine ! I 
have been waiting outside the house, this hour, to hear the 
Bells and claim it. Meg, my precious prize, a happy year! 
A life of happy years, my darling wife ! " 

And Richard smothered her with kisses. 

You never in all your life saw anything like Trotty after 



196 THE CHIMES. 

this. I don't care where you have lived or what you have 
seen ; you never in all your life saw anything at all approaching 
him ! He sat down in his chair and beat his knees and cried ; 
he sat down in his chair and beat his knees and laughed ; he 
sat down in his chair and beat his knees and laughed and 
cried together ; he got out of his chair and hugged Meg ; he 
got out of his chair and hugged Richard ; he got out of his 
chair and hugged them both at once ; he kept running up 
to Meg, and squeezing her fresh face between his hands and 
kissing it, going from her backwards not to lose sight of it, 
and running up again like a figure in a magic lantern ; and 
whatever he did, he was constantly sitting himself down in 
his chair, and never stopping in it for one single moment ; 
being that's the truth beside himself with joy. 

" And to-morrow's your wedding-day, my pet ! " cried 
Trotty. " Your real, happy wedding-day ! " 

" To-day ! " cried Richard, shaking hands with him. 
"To-day. The Chimes are ringing in the New Year. Hear 
them ! " 

They WERE ringing ! Bless their sturdy hearts, they 
WERE ringing ! Great Bells as they were ; melodious, deep- 
mouthed, noble Bells ; cast in no common metal ; made by 
no common founder; when had they ever chimed like that, 
before ! 

"But, to-day, my pet," said Trotty. "You and Richard 
had some words to-day." 

" Because he's such a bad fellow, father," said Meg. " AiTt 
you, Richard ? Such a headstrong, violent man ! He'd have 
made no more of speaking his mind to that great Alderman, 
and putting him down I don't know where, than he would 
of " 

"Kissing Meg," suggested Richard. Doing it too! 

"No. Not a bit more," said Meg. "But I wouldn't let 
him, father. Where would have been the use ! " 

" Richard my boy ! " cried Trotty. " You was turned up 
Trumps originally ; and Trumps you must be, till you die ! 



TO BE MARRIED TO-MORROW. 197 

But, you were crying by the fire to-night, my pet, when I 
came home ! Why did you cry by the fire ? " 

"I was thinking of the years we've passed together, 
father. Only that. And thinking that you might miss me, 
and be lonely. 11 

Trotty was backing off to that extraordinary chair again, 
when the child, who had been awakened by the noise, came 
running in half-dressed. 

" Why, here she is ! " cried Trotty, catching her up. 
" Here's little Lilian ! Ha ha ha ! Here we are and here 
we go ! O here we are and here we go again ! And here 
we are and here we go! and Uncle Will too! 11 Stopping in 
his trot to greet him heartily. "O, Uncle Will, the vision 
that I've had to-night, through lodging you ! O, Uncle 
Will, the obligations that you've laid me under, by your 
coming, my good friend ! " 

Before Will Fern could make the least reply, a band of 
music burst into the room, attended by a lot of neighbours, 
screaming " A Happy New Year, Meg ! " "A Happy 
Wedding ! '"' " Many of ""em ! 11 and other fragmentary good 
wishes of that sort. The Drum (who was a private friend 
of Trotty 's) then stepped forward, and said : 

" Trotty Veck, my boy ! It 1 s got about, that your 
daughter is going to be married to-morrow. There an't a 
soul that knows you that don't wish you well, or that knows 
her and don't wish her well. Or that knows you both, and 
don't wish you both all the happiness the New Year can 
bring. And here we are, to play it in and dance it in, 
accordingly." 

Which was received with a general shout. The Drum was 
rather drunk, by-the-bye ; but, never mind. 

"What a happiness it is, I'm sure," said Trotty, "to be 
so esteemed ! How kind and neighbourly you are ! It's all 
along of my dear daughter. She deserves it ! " 

They were ready for a dance in half a second (Meg and 
Richard at the top); and the Drum was on the very brink 



198 THE CHIMES. 

of leathering away with all his power ; when a combination 
of prodigious sounds was heard outside, and a good-humoured 
comely woman of some fifty years of age, or thereabouts, 
came running in, attended by a man bearing a stone pitcher 
of terrific size, and closely followed by the marrow-bones 
and cleavers, and the bells; not the Bells, but a portable 
collection on a frame. 

Trotty said, "It's Mrs. Chickenstalker I 11 And sat down 
and beat his knees again. 

" Married, and not tell me, Meg ! " cried the good woman. 
" Never ! I couldn't rest on the last night of the Old Year 
without coming to wish you joy. I couldn't have done it, 
Meg. Not if I had been bed-ridden. So here I am ; and as 
it's New Year's Eve, and the Eve of your wedding too, my 
dear, I had a little flip made, and brought it with me." 

Mrs. Chickenstalker's notion of a little flip did honour 
to her character. The pitcher steamed and smoked and 
reeked like a volcano ; and the man who had carried it, 
was faint. 

" Mrs. Tugby ! " said Trotty, who had been going round 
and round her, in an ecstasy. " I should say, Chickenstalker 
Bless your heart and soul ! A happy New Year, and 
many of 'em ! Mrs. Tugby," said Trotty when he had saluted 
her; "I should say, Chickenstalker This is William Fern 
and Lilian." 

The worthy dame, to his surprise, turned very pale and 
very red. 

"Not Lilian Fern whose mother died in Dorsetshire!" 
said she. 

Her uncle answered " Yes," and meeting hastily, they ex- 
changed some hurried words together ; of which the upshot 
was, that Mrs. Chickenstalker shook him by both hands; 
saluted Trotty on his cheek again of her own free will ; and 
took the child to her capacious breast. 

"Will Fern!" said Trotty, pulling on his right-hand 
muffler. " Not the friend you was hoping to find ? " 



THE NEW YEAR'S DANCE. 



199 



" Ay ! *' returned Will, putting a hand on each of Trotty's 
shoulders. "And like to prove almost as good a friend, if 
that can be, as one I found." 

"O!" said Trotty. "Please to 
play up there. Will you have the 
goodness ! " 

To the music of the band, the bells, 
EJifej^/s*, the marrow-bones and cleavers, all 
at once ; and while the Chimes 
were yet in lusty operation 
^^^ ,,- out of doors; Trotty, 
making Meg ami 
Richard, second 
couple, led off' 

K 




Aft fSB^ 

ffiMPi 




Mrs. Chicken- 
stalker down 
the dance, and 
danced it in a 
step unknown 
before or 
since; founded 
on his own 
peculiar trot. 
Had Trotty 
dreamed? Or, 
are his joys 
and sorrows, 
and the actors 
in them, but a 
dream ; him- 
self a dream ; 
the teller of 

this tale a dreamer, waking but now? If it be so, O 
listener, dear to him in all his visions, try to bear in mind 
the stern realities from which these shadows come; and in 
your sphere none is too wide, and none too limited for such 



200 THE CHIMES. 

an end endeavour to correct, improve, and soften them. So 
may the New Year be a happy one to you, happy to many 
more whose happiness depends on you ! So may each year 
be happier than the last, and not the meanest of our brethren 
or sisterhood debarred their rightful share, in what our Great 
Creator formed them to enjoy. 



THE 

CRICKET ON THE HEARTH, 

of 



LORD JEFFREY 

THIS LITTLE STORY IS INSCRIBED, 

WITH 
THE AFFECTION AND ATTACHMENT OF HIS FRIEND, 

THE AUTHOR. 
December, 1315. 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 





Engraver. 


Artitt. 


PAGE 


FRONTISPIECE 


Thompson. 


D. MACLISE, R.A. 




TITLE 


G. Dalzid. 


D. MACLISE, R.A. 




CHIRP THE FIRST . 


G. Dalzid. 


R. DOYLE 


207 


THE CARRIER'S CART . 


T. Williams. 


C. STANFIELD, R.A. 


212 


JOHN'S ARRIVAL. 


E. Dalzid. 


J. LEECH 


216 


JOHN AND DOT ... . 


Swain. 


J. LEECH 


235 


CHIRP THE SECOND . 


E. Dalzid. 


R. DOYLE 


237 


CALEB AT WORK 


G. Dalzid. 


J. LEECH 


241 


BOXER .... 


T. Wittiams. 


E. LANDSEER, R.A. . 


253 


TILLY SLOWBOY . 


Groves. 


J. LEECH 


257 


MRS. FIELDING'S LECTURE . 


E. Dalzid. 


J. LEECH 


265 


CHIRP THE THIRD 


T. Williams. 


R. DOYLE 


271 


JOHN'S REVERIE . 


Groves. 


J. LEECH . . . 


275 


THE DANCE 


Swain. 


J. LEECH 


304 



THE 



CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 







{ kettle began it ! Don't tell me what Mrs. 
Peerybingle said. I know better. Mrs. 
Peerybingle may leave it on record to the 
end of time that she couldn't say which of 
them began it ; but, I say the kettle did. 
I ought to know, 
I hope! The ket- 
tle beg;an it, full 
five minutes by 
the little waxy- 
faced Dutch 
clock in the cor- 
ner, before the 
Cricket uttered 
a chirp. 

As if the clock 
hadn't finished 
striking, and the convulsive little Haymaker at the top of it, 



208 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

jerking away right and left with a scythe in front of a 
Moorish Palace, hadn't mowed down half an acre of imagi- 
nary grass before the Cricket joined in at all ! 

Why, I am not naturally positive. Every one knows that. 
I wouldn't set my own opinion against the opinion of Mrs. 
Peerybingle, unless I were quite sure, on any account what- 
ever. Nothing should induce me. But, this is a question of 
fact. And the fact is, that the kettle began it, at least five 
minutes before the Cricket gave any sign of being in existence. 
Contradict me, and I'll say ten. 

Let me narrate exactly how it happened. I should have 
proceeded to do so in my very first word, but for this plain 
consideration if I am to tell a story I must begin at the 
beginning ; and how is it possible to begin at the beginning, 
without beginning at the kettle ? 

It appeared as if there were a sort of match, or trial of 
skill, you must understand, between the kettle and the 
Cricket. And this is what led to it, and how it came about. 

Mrs. Peerybingle, going out into the raw twilight, and 
clicking over the wet stones in a pair of pattens that worked 
innumerable rough impressions of the first proposition in 
Euclid all about the yard Mrs. Peerybingle filled the kettle 
at the water-butt. Presently returning, less the pattens (and 
a good deal less, for they were tall and Mrs. Peerybingle was 
but short), she set the kettle on the fire. In doing which she 
lost her temper, or mislaid it for an instant; for, the water 
being uncomfortably cold, and in that slippy, slushy, sleety 
sort of state wherein it seems to penetrate through every kind 
of substance, patten rings included had laid hold of Mrs. 
Peerybingle's toes, and even splashed her legs. And when 
we rather plume ourselves (with reason too) upon our legs, 
and keep ourselves particularly neat in point of stockings, we 
find this, for the moment, hard to bear. 

Besides, the kettle was aggravating and obstinate. It 
wouldn't allow itself to be adjusted on the top bar; it 



OBSTINACY OF THE KETTLE. 200 

wouldn't hear of accommodating itself kindly to the knobs 
of coal ; it would lean forward with a drunken air, and dribble, 
a very Idiot of a kettle, on the hearth. It was quarrelsome, 
and hissed and spluttered morosely at the fire. To sum up 
all, the lid, resisting Mrs. Peerybingle's fingers, first of all 
turned topsy-turvy, and then, with an ingenious pertinacity 
deserving of a better cause, dived sideways in down to the 
very bottom of the kettle. And the hull of the Royal George 
has never made half the monstrous resistance to coming out 
of the water, which the lid of that kettle employed against 
Mrs. Peerybingle, before she got it up again. 

It looked sullen and pig-headed enough, even then ; carry- 
ing its handle with an air of defiance, and cocking its spout 
pertly and mockingly at Mrs. Peerybingle, as if it said, " I 
won't boil. Nothing shall induce me ! " 

But Mrs. Peerybingle, with restored good humour, dusted 
her chubby little hands against each other, and sat down 
before the kettle, laughing. Meantime, the jolly blaze uprose 
and fell, flashing and gleaming on the little Haymaker at 
the top of the Dutch clock, until one might have thought 
he stood stock still before the Moorish Palace, and nothing 
was in motion but the flame. 

He was on the move, however; and had his spasms, two 
to the second, all right and regular. But, his sufferings 
when the clock was going to strike, were frightful to behold ; 
and, when a Cuckoo looked out of a trap-door in the Palace, 
and gave note six times, it shook him, each time, like a 
spectral voice or like a something wiry, plucking at his legs. 

It was not until a violent commotion and a whirring noise 
among the weights and ropes below him had quite subsided, 
that this terrified Haymaker became himself again. Nor was 
he startled without reason ; for these rattling, bony skeletons 
of clocks are very disconcerting in their operation, and I 
wonder very much how any set of men, but most of all how 
Dutchmen, can have had a liking to invent them. There is 
a popular belief that Dutchmen love broad cases and much 

p 



210 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

clothing for their own lower selves; and they might know 
better than to leave their clocks so very lank and unprotected, 
surely. 

Now it was, you observe, that the kettle began to spend the 
evening. Now it was, that the kettle, growing mellow and 
musical, began to have irrepressible gurglings in its throat, 
and to indulge in short vocal snorts, which it checked in the 
bud, as if it hadn't quite made up its mind yet, to be good 
company. Now it was, that after two or three such vain 
attempts to stifle its convivial sentiments, it threw off' all 
moroseness, all reserve, and burst into a stream of song so 
cosy and hilarious, as never maudlin nightingale yet formed 
the least idea of. 

So plain too ! Bless you, you might have understood it 
like a book better than some books you and I could name, 
perhaps. With its warm breath gushing forth in a light 
cloud which merrily and gracefully ascended a few feet, then 
hung about the chimney-corner as its own domestic Heaven, 
it trolled its song with that strong energy of cheerfulness, 
that its iron body hummed and stirred upon the fire ; and 
the lid itself, the recently rebellious lid such is the influence 
of a bright example performed a sort of jig, and clattered 
like a deaf and dumb young cymbal that had never known 
the use of its twin brother. 

That this song of the kettle's was a song of invitation 
and welcome to somebody out of doors : to somebody at that 
moment coming on, towards the snug small home and the 
crisp fire: there is no doubt whatever. Mrs. Peerybingle 
knew it, perfectly, as she sat musing before the hearth. It's 
a dark night, sang the kettle, and the rotten leaves are lying 
by the way ; and, above, all is mist and darkness, and, below, 
all is mire and clay ; and there's only one relief in all the sad 
and murky air; and I don't know that it is one, for it's 
nothing but a glare ; of deep and angry crimson, where the 
sun and wind together; set a brand upon the clouds for 
being guilty of such weather ; and the widest open country 



THE CRICKET TAKES FIRST FIDDLE. 211 

is a long dull streak of black ; and there's hoar-frost on the 
finger-post, and thaw upon the track; and the ice it isn't 
water, and the water isn't free ; and you couldn't say that 
anything is what it ought to be ; but he's coming, coming, 
coming ! 

And here, if you like, the Cricket DID chime in ! with a 
Chirrup, Chirrup, Chirrup of such magnitude, by way of 
chorus; with a voice so astoundingly disproportionate to its 
size, as compared with the kettle ; (size ! you couldn't see it !) 
that if it had then and there burst itself like an overcharged 
gun, if it had fallen a victim on the spot, and chirruped its 
little body into fifty pieces, it would have seemed a natural 
and inevitable consequence, for which it had expressly 
laboured. 

The kettle had had the last of its solo performance. It 
persevered with undiminished ardour; but the Cricket took 
first fiddle and kept it. Good Heaven, how it chirped ! Its 
shrill, sharp, piercing voice resounded through the house, and 
seemed to twinkle in the outer darkness like a star. There 
was an indescribable little trill and tremble in it, at its 
loudest, which suggested its being carried off its legs, and 
made to leap again, by its own intense enthusiasm. Yet 
they went very well together, the Cricket and the kettle. 
The burden of the song was still the same; and louder, 
louder, louder still, they sang it in their emulation. 

The fair little listener for fair she was, and young : though 
something of what is called the dumpling shape ; but I don't 
myself object to that lighted a candle, glanced at the Hay- 
maker on the top of the clock, who was getting in a pretty 
average crop of minutes ; and looked out of the window, 
where she saw nothing, owing to the darkness, but her own 
face imaged in the glass. And my opinion is (and so would 
yours have been), that she might have looked a long way, 
and seen nothing half so agreeable. When she came back, 
and sat down in her former seat, the Cricket and the kettle 
were still keeping it up, with a perfect fury of competition. 



212 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

The kettle's weak side clearly being, that he didn't know 
when he was beat. 

There was all the excitement of a race about it. Chirp, 
chirp, chirp ! Cricket a mile ahead. Hum, hum, hum m m ! 

Kettle making 
play in the dis- 
tance, like a 
great top. 
Chirp, chirp, 
chirp ! Cricket 
round the cor- 
ner. Hum, hum, 
hum m m ! 
Kettle sticking 
to him in his 
own way ; no 

idea of giving in. Chirp, chirp, 
chirp ! Cricket fresher than ever. 
Hum, hum, hum in m ! Kettle 
slow and steady. Chirp, chirp, 
chirp ! Cricket going in to finish 
him. Hum, hum, hum m m ! 
Kettle not to be finished. Until 
at last they got so jumbled to- 
gether, in the hurry-skurry, helter- 
.skelter, of the match, that whether 
the kettle chirped and the Cricket 
hummed, or the Cricket chirped 
and the kettle hummed, or they 
both chirped and both hummed, it 
would have taken a clearer head 
than yours or mine to have decided 

with anything like certainty. But, of this, there is no doubt : 
that, the kettle and the Cricket, at one and the same moment, 
and by some power of amalgamation best known to themselves, 
sent, each, his fireside song of comfort streaming into a ray 




nKLCOME HOME! 213 

of the candle that shone out through the window, and a long 
way down the lane. And this light, bursting on a certain 
person who, on the instant, approached towards it through 
the gloom, expressed the whole thing to him, literally in a 
twinkling, and cried, " Welcome home, old fellow ! Welcome 
home, my boy ! " 

This end attained, the kettle, being dead beat, boiled over, 
and was taken off the fire. Mrs. Peerybingle then went run- 
ning to the door, where, what with the wheels of a cart, the 
trump of a horse, the voice of a man, the tearing in and out 
of an excited dog, and the surprising and mysterious appear- 
ance of a baby, there was soon the very What's-his-namc 
to pay. 

Where the baby came from, or how Mrs. Peerybingle got 
hold of it in that flash of time, / don't know. But a live 
baby there was, in Mrs. Peerybingle's arms ; and a pretty 
tolerable amount of pride she seemed to have in it, when she 
was drawn gently to the fire, by a sturdy figure of a man, 
much taller and much older than herself, who had to stoop a 
long way down, to kiss her. But she was worth the trouble. 
Six foot six, with the lumbago, might have done it. 

" Oh goodness, John ! " said Mrs. P. " What a state you 
are in with the weather ! " 

He was something the worse for it, undeniably. The thick 
mist hung in clots upon his eyelashes like candied thaw ; and 
between the fog and fire together, there were rainbows in his 
very whiskers. 

" Why, you see, Dot,"" John made answer, slowly, as 
he unrolled a shawl from about his throat; and warmed 
his hands; "it it an't exactly summer weather. So, no 
wonder." 

" I wish you wouldn't call me Dot, John. I don't like it," 
said Mrs. Peerybingle : pouting in a way that clearly showed 
she did like it, very much. 

"Why what else are you?" returned John, looking down 
upon her with a smile, and giving her waist as light a squeeze 



214 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

as his huge hand and arm could give. " A dot and " here 
he glanced at the baby "a dot and can-)' I won't say it, 
for fear I should spoil it; but I was very near a joke. I 
don't know as ever I was nearer."" 

He was often near to something or other very clever, by 
his own account: this lumbering, slow, honest John; this 
John so heavy, but so light of spirit ; so rough upon the 
surface, but so gentle at the core ; so dull without, so quick 
within ; so stolid, but so good ! Oh Mother Nature, give thy 
children the true poetry of heart that hid itself in this poor 
Carrier's breast he was but a Carrier by the way and we 
can bear to have them talking prose, and leading lives of 
prose ; and bear to bless thee for their company ! 

It was pleasant to see Dot, with her little figure, and her 
baby in her arms : a very doll of a baby : glancing with a 
coquettish thoughtfulness at the fire, and inclining her deli- 
cate little head just enough on one side to let it rest in an 
odd, half-natural, half-affected, wholly nestling and agreeable 
manner, on the great rugged figure of the Carrier. It was 
pleasant to see him, with his tender awkwardness, endeavour- 
ing to adapt his rude support to her slight need, and make 
his burly middle-age a leaning-staff' not inappropriate to her 
blooming youth. It was pleasant to observe how Tilly Slow- 
boy, waiting in the background for the baby, took special 
cognizance (though in her earliest teens) of this grouping; 
and stood with her mouth and eyes wide open, and her head 
thrust forward, taking it in as if it were air. Nor was it less 
agreeable to observe how John the Carrier, reference being 
made by Dot to the aforesaid baby, checked his hand when 
on the point of touching the infant, as if he thought he might 
crack it ; and bending down, surveyed it from a safe distance, 
with a kind of puzzled pride, such as an amiable mastiff 
might be supposed to show, if he found himself, one day, the 
father of a young canary. 

"An't he beautiful, John? Don't he look precious in his 
sleep? 1 ' 



THE CARRIER AND HIS WIFE. 215 

" Very precious," said John. " Very much so. He gene- 
rally is asleep, an't he ? " 

" Lor, John ! Good gracious no ! " 

"Oh," said John, pondering. "I thought his eyes was 
generally shut. Halloa ! " 

" Goodness, John, how you startle one ! " 

" It an't right for him to turn 'em up in that way ! " said 
the astonished Carrier, "is it? See how he's winking with 
both of 'em at once ! And look at his mouth ! Why he's 
gasping like a gold and silver fish ! " 

"You don't deserve to be a father, you don't," said Dot, 
with all the dignity of an experienced matron. " But how 
should you know what little complaints children are troubled 
with, John ! You wouldn't so much as know their names, 
you stupid fellow." And when she had turned the baby over 
on her left arm, and had slapped its back as a restorative, 
she pinched her husband's ear, laughing. 

" No," said John, pulling off his outer coat. " It's very 
true, Dot. I don't know much about it. I only know that 
I've been fighting pretty stiffly with the wind to-night. It's 
been blowing north-east, straight into the cart, the whole 
way home." 

" Poor old man, so it has ! " cried Mrs. Peerybingle, 
instantly becoming very active. " Here ! Take the precious 
darling, Tilly, while I make myself of some use. Bless it, 
I could smother it with kissing it, I could ! Hie then, good 
dog ! Hie, Boxer, boy ! Only let me make the tea first, 
John ; and then I'll help you with the parcels, like a busy 
bee. ' How doth the little ' and all the rest of it, you know, 
John. Did you ever learn ' how doth the little,' when you 
went to school, John ? " 

"Not to quite know it," John returned. "I was very 
near it once. But I should only have spoilt it, I dare say." 

" Ha ha," laughed Dot. She had the blithest little laugh 
you ever heard. " What a dear old darling of a dunce you 
are, John, to be sure ! " 



216 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



Not at all disputing this position, John went out to sec 
that the boy with the lantern, which had been dancing to 
and fro before the door and window, like a Will of the Wisp, 

^*- ' took due care of the horse ; who was fatter 

jSprx ^'- v - - 

..cthL 



$& 




than you would quite believe, if 
I gave you his measure, and so 
old that his birthday was lost 
in the mists of antiquity. 
Boxer, feeling that his atten- 
tions were due to the family 
in general, and must be im- 
partially distributed, dashed 
in and out with bewildering 
inconstancy; 
now, describ- 
ing a circle of 
short barks 
round the 
horse, where 
he was being 
rubbed down 
at the stable- 
door ; now 
feigning to 
make savage 
rushes at his 
mistress, and 
facetiously 
bringing him- 
self to sudden 
stops ; now, 
eliciting a 
shriek from 



-illy hlowboy, in the low nursing-chair near the fire, by the 
unexpected application of his moist nose to her countenance; 
now, exhibiting an obtrusive interest in the baby ; now, going 



MISS TILLY SLOWBOY. 217 

round and round upon the hearth, and lying down as if he 
had established himself for the night ; now, getting up again, 
and taking that nothing of a fag-end of a tail of his, out 
into the weather, as if he had just remembered an appoint- 
ment, and was off, at a round trot, to keep it. 

" There ! There's the teapot, ready on the hob ! " said 
Dot ; as briskly busy as a child at play at keeping house. 
" And there's the old knuckle of ham ; and there's the butter ; 
and there's the crusty loaf, and all ! Here's the clothes- 
basket for the small parcels, John, if you've got any there 
where are you, John ? Don't let the dear child fall under 
the grate, Tilly, whatever you do ! " 

It may be noted of Miss Slowboy, in spite of her rejecting 
the caution with some vivacity, that she had a rare and 
surprising talent for getting this baby into difficulties : and 
had several times imperilled its short life, in a quiet way 
peculiarly her own. She was of a spare and straight shape, 
this young lady, insomuch that her garments appeared to 
be in constant danger of sliding off those sharp pegs, her 
shoulders, on which they were loosely hung. Her costume 
was remarkable for the partial development, oh all possible 
occasions, of some flannel vestment of a singular structure ; 
also for affording glimpses, in the region of the back, of a 
corset, or pair of stays, in colour a dead-green. Being always 
in a state of gaping admiration at everything, and absorbed, 
besides, in the perpetual contemplation of her mistress's per- 
fections and the baby's, Miss Slowboy, in her little errors of 
judgment, may be said to have done equal honour to her head 
and to her heart ; and though these did less honour to the 
baby's head, which they were the occasional means of bring- 
ing into contact with deal doors, dressers, stair-rails, bed- 
posts, and other foreign substances, still they were the honest 
results of Tilly Slowboy's constant astonishment at finding 
herself so kindly treated, and installed in such a comfortable 
home. For, the maternal and paternal Slowboy were alike 
unknown to Fame, and Tilly had been bred by public charity, 



218 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

a foundling ; which word, though only differing from fondling 
by one vowel's length, is very different in meaning, and ex- 
presses quite another thing. 

To have seen little Mrs. Peerybingle come back with her 
husband, tugging at the clothes-basket, and making the 
most strenuous exertions to do nothing at all (for he carried 
it), would have amused you almost as much as it amused 
him. It may have entertained the Cricket too, for anything 
I know; but, certainly, it now began to chirp again, 
vehemently. 

" Heyday ! " said John, in his slow way. " It's merrier than 
ever, to-night, I think." 

" And it's sure to bring us good fortune, John ! It always 
has done so. To have a Cricket on the. Hearth, is the luckiest 
thing in all the world ! " 

John looked at her as if he had very nearly got the 
thought into his head, that she was his Cricket in chief, and 
he quite agreed with her. But, it was probably one of his 
narrow escapes, for he said nothing. 

" The first time I heard its cheerful little note, John, was 
on that night when you brought me home when you brought 
me to my new home here ; its little mistress. Nearly a year 
ago. You recollect, John ? " 

O yes. John remembered. I should think so ! 

" Its chirp was such a welcome to me ! It seemed so full 
of promise and encouragement. It seemed to say, you would 
be kind and gentle with me, and would not expect (I had 
a fear of that, John, then) to find an old head on the 
shoulders of your foolish little wife." 

John thoughtfully patted one of the shoulders, and then 
the head, as though he would have said No, no ; he had had 
no such expectation ; he had been quite content to take them 
as they were. And really he had reason. They were very 
comely. 

" It spoke the truth, John, when it seemed to say so ; for 
you have ever been, I am sure, the best, the most considerate, 



THE CRICKET'S MERRY CHIRP. 219 

the most affectionate of husbands to me. This has been a 
happy home, John ; and I love the Cricket for its sake ! " 

" Why so do I then," 1 said the Carrier. " So do I, Dot." 

" I love it for the many times I have heard it, and the 
many thoughts its harmless music has given me. Sometimes, 
in the twilight, when I have felt a little solitary and down- 
hearted, John before baby was here to keep me company 
and make the house gay when I have thought how lonely 
you would be if I should die ; how lonely I should be if I 
could know that you had lost me, dear; its Chirp, Chirp^ 
Chirp upon the hearth, has seemed to tell me of another 
little voice, so sweet, so very dear to me, before whose coming 
sound my trouble vanished like a dream. And when I used 
to fear I did fear once, John, I was very young you know 
that ours might prove to be an ill-assorted marriage, I being 
such a child, and you more like my guardian than my hus- 
band ; and that you might not, however hard you tried, be 
able to learn to love me, as you hoped and prayed you might ; 
its Chirp, Chirp, Chirp has cheered me up again, and filled 
me with new trust and confidence. I was thinking of 
these things to-night, dear, when I sat expecting you ; and 
I love the Cricket for their sake ! " 

" And so do I," repeated John. " But, Dot ? / hope and 
pray that I might learn to love you ? How you talk ! I 
had learnt that, long before I brought you here, to be the 
Cricket's little mistress, Dot ! " 

She laid her hand, an instant, on his arm, and looked up 
at him with an agitated face, as if she would have told him 
something. Next moment she was down upon her knees 
before the basket, speaking in a sprightly voice, and busy 
with the parcels. 

"There are not many of them to-nignt, John, but I saw 
some goods behind the cart, just now ; and though they give 
more trouble, perhaps, still they pay as well ; so we have no 
reason to grumble, have we ? Besides, you have been de- 
livering, I dare say, as you came along ? " 



220 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

" Oh yes, 11 John said. " A good many/' 

"Why what's this round box? Heart alive, John, it's a 
wedding-cake ! " 

"Leave a woman alone to find out that," said John, ad- 
miringly. "Now a man would never have thought of it. 
Whereas, it's my belief that if you was to pack a wedding- 
cake up in a tea-chest, or a turn-up bedstead, or a pickled 
salmon keg, or any unlikely thing, a woman would be sure to 
find it out directly. Yes ; I called for it at the pastry-cook's." 

"And it weighs I don't, know what whole hundred- 
weights ! " cried Dot, making a great demonstration of trying 
to lift it. " Whose is it, John ? Where is it going ? " 

"Read the writing on the other side,' 1 said John. 

" Why, John ! My Goodness, John ! " 

" Ah ! who'd have thought it ! " John returned. 

"You never mean to say," pursued Dot, sitting on the 
floor and shaking her head at him, "that it's Gruff' and 
Tackleton the toymaker ! " 

John nodded. 

Mrs. Peerybingle nodded also, fifty times at least. Not 
in assent in dumb and pitying amazement ; screwing up 
her lips the while with all their little force (they were never 
made for screwing up ; I am clear of that), and looking the 
good Carrier through and through, in her abstraction. Miss 
Slowboy, in the mean time, who had a mechanical power of 
reproducing scraps of current conversation for the delectation 
of the baby, with all the sense struck out of them, and all 
the nouns changed into the plural number, inquired aloud of 
that young creature, Was it Gruffs and Tackletons the toy- 
makers then, and Would it call at Pastry-cooks for wedding- 
cakes, and Did its mothers know the boxes when its fathers 
brought them homes ; and so on. 

" And that is really to come about ! " said Dot. " Why, 
she and I were girls at school together, John." 

He might have been thinking of her, or nearly thinking 
of her, perhaps, as she was in that same school time. He 



GRUFF AND TACKLETON. 221 

looked upon her with a thoughtful pleasure, but he made no 
answer. 

" And he's as old ! As unlike her ! Why, how many 
years older than you, is Gruff and Tackleton, John ? " 

" How many more cups of tea shall I drink to-night at 
one sitting, than Gruff' and Tackleton ever took in four, I 
wonder ! " replied John, good-humoured ly, as he drew a chair 
to the round table, and began at the cold ham. " As to 
eating, I eat but little ; but that little I enjoy, Dot." 

Even this, his usual sentiment at meal times, one of his 
innocent delusions (for his appetite was always obstinate, and 
flatly contradicted him), awoke no smile in the face of his 
little wife, who stood among the parcels, pushing the cake- 
box slowly from her with her foot, and never once looked, 
though her eyes were cast down too, upon the dainty shoe 
she generally was so mindful of. Absorbed in thought, she 
stood there, heedless alike of the tea and John (although he 
called to her, and rapped the table with his knife to startle 
her), until he rose and touched her on the arm ; when she 
looked at him for a moment, and hurried to her place behind 
the teaboard, laughing at her negligence. But, not as she 
had laughed before. The manner and the music were quite 
changed. 

The Cricket, too, had stopped. Somehow the room was 
not so cheerful as it had been. Nothing like it. 

"So, these are all the parcels, are they, John? 11 she said, 
breaking a long silence, which the honest Carrier had devoted 
to the practical illustration of one part of his favourite senti- 
ment certainly enjoying what he ate, if it couldn't be ad- 
mitted that he ate but little. " So these are all the parcels ; 
are they, John ? " 

" That' s all," said John. " Why ho I " laying down 
his knife and fork, and taking a long breath. " I declare 
I've clean forgotten the old gentleman ! w 

" The old gentleman ? " 

"In the cart," said John. "He was asleep, among the 



222 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

straw, the last time I saw him. I've very nearly remembered 
him, twice, since I came in ; but he went out of my head 
again. Holloa ! Yahip there ! Rouse up ! That's my 
hearty ! " 

John said these latter words outside the door, whither he 
had hurried with the candle in his hand. 

Miss Slowboy, conscious of some mysterious reference to 
The Old Gentleman, and connecting in her mystified imagina- 
tion certain associations of a religious nature with the phrase, 
was so disturbed, that hastily rising from the low chair by 
the fire to seek protection near the skirts of her mistress, 
and coming into contact as she crossed the doorway with an 
ancient Stranger, she instinctively made a charge or butt at 
him with the only offensive instrument within her reach. 
This instrument happening to be the baby, great commotion 
and alarm ensued, which the sagacity of Boxer rather tended 
to increase; for, that good dog, more thoughtful than its 
master, had, it seemed, been watching the old gentleman in 
his sleep, lest he should walk off with a few young poplar 
trees that were tied up behind the cart ; and he still attended 
on him very closely, worrying his gaiters in fact, and making 
dead sets at the buttons. 

" You're such an undeniable good sleeper, sir, 11 said John, 
when tranquillity was restored ; in the mean time the old 
gentleman had stood, bareheaded and motionless, in the 
centre of the room ; " that I have half a mind to ask you 
where the other six are only that would be a joke, and I 
know I should spoil it. Very near though," murmured the 
Carrier, with a chuckle ; " very near ! " 

The Stranger, who had long white hair, good features, 
singularly bold and well defined for an old man, and dark, 
bright, penetrating eyes, looked round with a smile, and 
saluted the Carrier's wife by gravely inclining his head. 

His garb was very quaint and odd a long, long way 
behind the time. Its hue was brown, all over. In his hand 
he held a great brown club or walking-stick ; and striking 



THE DEAF STRANGER. 223 

this upon the floor, it fell asunder, and became a chair. On 
which he sat down, quite composedly. 

" There ! " said the Carrier, turning to his wife. " That's 
the way I found him, sitting by the roadside ! Upright as 
a milestone. And almost as deaf. 11 

" Sitting in the open air, John ! " 

"In the open air," replied the Carrier, "just at dusk. 
' Carriage Paid, 1 he said ; and gave me eighteenpence. Then 
he got in. And there he is. 11 

" He^ going, John, I think ! " 

Not at all. He was only going to speak. 

" If you please, I was to be left till called for, 11 said the 
Stranger, mildly. " Don^ mind me. 11 

With that, he took a pair of spectacles from one of his 
large pockets, and a book from another, and leisurely began 
to read. Making no more of Boxer than if he had been a 
house lamb ! 

The Carrier and his wife exchanged a look of perplexity. 
The Stranger raised his head ; and glancing from the latter 
to the former, said, 

" Your daughter, my good friend ? " 

" Wife, 11 returned John. 

" Niece ? " said the Stranger. 

" Wife, 11 roared John. 

" Indeed ? " observed the Stranger. " Surely ? Very young ! " 

He quietly turned over, and resumed his reading. But, 
before he could have read two lines, he again interrupted 
himself to say : 

"Baby, yours? 11 

John gave him a gigantic nod; equivalent to an answer in 
the affirmative, delivered through a speaking trumpet. 

" Girl ? " 

" Bo-o-oy ! " roared John. 

" Also very young, eh ? " 

Mrs. Peerybingle instantly struck in. "Two months and 
three da-ays ! Vaccinated just six weeks ago-o ! Took very 



g4 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

fine-ly! Considered, by the doctor, a remarkably beautiful 
chi-ild ! Equal to the general run of children at five months 
o-old ! Takes notice, in a way quite won-der-ful ! May seem 
impossible to you, but feels his legs al -ready ! " 

Here the breathless little mother, who had been shrieking 
these short sentences into the old man's ear, until her pretty 
face was crimsoned, held up the Baby before him as a 
stubborn and triumphant fact ; while Tilly Slowboy, with a 
melodious cry of " Ketcher, Ketcher " which sounded like some 
unknown words, adapted to a popular Sneeze performed 
some cow-like gambols round that all unconscious Innocent. 

"Hark! He's called for, sure enough," said John. "There's 
somebody at the door. Open it, Tilly."" 

Before she could reach it, however, it was opened from 
without; being a primitive sort of door, with a latch, that 
any one could lift if he chose and a good many people did 
choose, for all kinds of neighbours liked to have a cheerful 
word or two with the Carrier, though he was no great talker 
himself. Being opened, it gave admission to a little, meagre, 
thoughtful, dingy-faced man, who seemed to have made him- 
self a great-coat from the sack-cloth covering of some old 
box; for, when he turned to shut the door, and keep the 
weather out, he disclosed upon the back of that garment, the 
inscription G & T in large black capitals. Also the word 
GLASS in bold characters. 

" Good evening, John ! " said the little man. " Good evening, 
Mum. Good evening, Tilly. Good evening, Unbeknown ! 
How's Baby, Mum ? Boxer's pretty well I hope ? " 

"All thriving, Caleb," replied Dot. "I am sure you need 
only look at the dear child, for one, to know that. 11 

"And I'm sure I need only look at you for another," said 
Caleb. 

He didn't look at her though ; he had a wandering and 
thoughtful eye which seemed to bo always projecting itself 
into some other time and place, no matter what he said ; a 
description which will equally apply to his voice. 



CALEB PLUMMER. 225 

"Or cat John for another," said Caleb. "Or at Tilly, as 
far as that goes. Or certainly at Boxer." 

" Busy just now, Caleb ? " asked the Carrier. 

" Why, pretty well, John," he returned, with the distraught 
air of a man who was casting about for the Philosopher's stone, 
at least. " Pretty much so. There's rather a run on Noah's 
Arks at present. I could have wished to improve upon the 
Family, but I don't see how it's to be done at the price. It 
would be a satisfaction to one's mind, to make it clearer 
which was Shems and Hams, and which was Wives. Flies 
an't on that scale neither, as compared with elephants you 
know ! Ah ! well ! Have you got anything in the parcel line 
for me, John ? " 

The Carrier put his hand into a pocket of the coat he had 
taken off; and brought out, carefully preserved in moss and 
paper, a tiny flower-pot. 

"There it is ! " he said, adjusting it with great care. "Not 
so much as a leaf damaged. Full of buds!" 

Caleb's dull eye brightened, as he took it, and thanked 
him. 

"Dear, Caleb," said the Carrier. "Very dear at this 
season." 

" Never mind that. It Avould be cheap to me, whatever it 
cost," returned the little man. " Anything else, John ? " 

" A small box," replied the Carrier. " Here you are ! " 

"'For Caleb Plummer,'" said the little man, spelling out 
the direction. " ' With Cash.' With Cash, John ? I don't 
think it's for me." 

"With Care," returned the Carrier, looking over his 
shoulder. " Where do you make out cash ? " 

Oh! To be sure!" said Caleb. "It's all right. ^vVith 
care ! Yes, yes ; that's mine. It might liave been with cash, 
indeed, if my dear Boy in the Golden South Americas had 
lived, John. You loved him like a son ; didn't you ? You 
needn't say you did. / know, of course. ' Caleb Plummer. 
With care.' Yes, yes, it's all right. It's a box of dolls' eyes 

u 



226 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

for my daughters work. I wish it was her own sight in a 
box, John." 

I wish it was, or could be ! " cried the Carrier. 
"Thank'ee," said the little man. " You speak very hearty. 
To think that she should never see the Dolls and them 
a-staring at her, so bold, all -day long ! That's where it cuts. 
What's the damage, John ? " 

"Til damage you," said John, "if you inquire. Dot! 
Very near ? " 

"Well! it's like you to say so," observed the little man. 
"It's your kind way. Let me see. I think that's all." 
" I think not," said the Carrier. " Try again." 
"Something for our Governor, eh?" said C'aleb, after 
pondering a little while. " To be sure. That's what I came 
for ; but my head's so running on them Arks and things ! 
He hasn't been here, has he ? " 

" Not he,"' returned the Carrier. " He's too busy, courting." 
" He's coming round though," said Caleb ; " for he told me 
to keep on the near side of the road going home, and it was 
ten to one he'd take me up. I had better go, by the bye. 
You couldn't have the goodness to let me pinch Boxer's 
tail, Mum, for half a moment, could you ? " 
" Why, Caleb ! what a question ! " 

** Oh never mind, Mum," said the little man. " He mightn't 
like it perhaps. There's a small order just come in, for 
barking dogs ; and I should wish to go as close to Natur' as 
I could, for sixpence. That's all. Never mind, Mum." 

It happened opportunely, that Boxer, without receiving the 
proposed stimulus, began to bark with great zeal. But, as 
this implied the approach of some new visitor, Caleb, post- 
poning his study from the life to a more convenient season, 
shouldered the round box, and took a hurried leave. He 
might have spared himself the trouble, for he met the visitor 
upon the threshold. 

" Oh ! You are here, are you ? Wait a bit. I'll take you 
home. John Peerybingle, my service to you. More of my 



s TOYS. 227 

sen-ice to your pretty wife. Handsomer every day ! Better 
'too, if possible ! And younger," mused the speaker, in a 
low voice ; " that's the Devil of it ! " 

"I should be astonished at your paying compliments, Mr. 
Tackleton," said Dot, not with the best grace in the world ; 
" but for your condition." 

*' You know all about it then ? " 

" I have got myself to believe it, somehow, 1 " said Dot. 

" After a hard struggle, I suppose ? " 

" Very." 

Tackleton the Toy-merchant, pretty generally known as 
Gruff' and Tackleton for that was the firm, though Gruff 
had been bought out long ago ; only leaving his name, and 
as some said his nature, according to its Dictionary meaning, 
in the business Tackleton the Toy-merchant, was a man 
whose vocation had been quite misunderstood by his Parents 
and Guardians. If they had made him a Money Lender, or 
a sharp Attorney, or a Sheriffs Officer, or a Broker, he 
might have sown his discontented oats in his youth, and, 
after having had the full run of himself in ill-natured 
transactions, might have turned out amiable, at last, for the 
sake of a little freshness and novelty. But, cramped and 
chafing in the peaceable pursuit of toy-making, he was a 
domestic Ogre, who had been living on children all his life, 
and was their implacable enemy. He despised all toys; 
wouldn't have bought one for the world ; delighted, in his 
malice, to insinuate grim expressions into the faces of brown- 
paper farmers who drove pigs to market, bellmen who 
advertised lost lawyers 1 consciences, movable old ladies who 
darned stockings or carved pies ; and other like samples of 
his stock in trade. In appalling masks; hideous, hairy, red- 
eyed Jacks in Boxes ; Vampire Kites ; demoniacal Tumblers 
who wouldn't lie down, and were perpetually flying forward, 
to stare infants out of countenance ; his soul perfectly 
revelled. They were his only relief, and safety-valve. He 
was great in such inventions. Anything suggestive of a 



228 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

Pony-nightmare was delicious to him. He had even lost 
money (and he took to that toy very kindly) by getting up 
Goblin slides for magic-lanterns, whereon the Powers of 
Darkness were depicted as a sort of supernatural shell-fish, 
with human faces. In intensifying the portraiture of Giants, 
he had sunk quite a little capital ; and, though no painter 
himself, he could indicate, for the instruction of his artists, 
with a piece of chalk, a certain furtive leer for the counte- 
nances of those monsters, which was safe to destroy the 
peace of mind of any young gentleman between the ages of 
six and eleven, for the whole Christmas or Midsummer 
Vacation. 

What he was in toys, he was (as most men are) in other 
things. You may easily suppose, therefore, that within the 
great green cape, which reached down to the calves of his 
legs, there was buttoned up to the chin an uncommonly 
pleasant fellow; and that he was about as choice a spirit, 
and as agreeable a companion, as ever stood in a pair of 
bull-headed-looking boots with mahogany- coloured tops. 

Still, Tackleton, the toy-merchant, was going to be 
married. In spite of all this, he was going to be married. 
And to a young wife too, a beautiful young wife. 

He didn't look much like a bridegroom, as he stood in the 
Carrier's kitchen, with a twist in his dry face, and a screw 
in his body, and his hat jerked over the bridge of his nose, 
and his hands tucked down into the bottoms of his pockets, 
and his whole sarcastic ill-conditioned self peering out of one 
little corner of one little eye, like the concentrated essence 
of any number of ravens. But, a Bridegroom he designed 
to be. 

" In three days' time. Next Thursday. The last day of 
the first month in the year. That's my wedding-day," said 
Tackleton. 

Did I mention that he had always one eye wide open, and 
one eye nearly shut ; and that the one eye nearly shut, was 
always the expressive eye ? I don't think I did. " 



IN THE SAME BOAT. 229 

" That's my wedding-day ! " said Tackleton, rattling his 
money. 

" Why, it's our wedding-day too," exclaimed the Carrier. 

" Ha ha ! " laughed Tackleton. " Odd ! You're just such 
another couple. Just ! " 

The indignation of Dot at this presumptuous assertion is 
not to be described. What next? His imagination would 
compass the possibility of just such another Baby, perhaps. 
The man was mad. 

" I say ! A word with you," murmured Tackleton, nudging 
the Carrier with his elbow, and taking him a little apart. 
" You'll come to the wedding ? We're in the same boat, 
you know." 

" How in the same boat ? " inquired the Carrier. 

"A little disparity, you know," said Tackleton, with 
another nudge. " Come and spend an evening with us, 
beforehand." 

"Why?" demanded John, astonished at this pressing 
hospitality. . 

"Why?" returned the other. "That's a new way of 
receiving an invitation. Why, for pleasure sociability, you 
know, and all that ! " 

" I thought you were never sociable," said John, in his 
plain way. 

" Tchah ! It's of no use to be anything but free with you, 
I see," said Tackleton. "Why, then, the truth is you have 
a what tea-drinking people call a sort of a comfortable 
appearance together, you and your wife. We know better, 
you know, but 

"No, we don't know better," interposed John. "What 
are you talking about?" 

"Well! We dont know better, then," said Tackleton. 
"We'll agree that we don't. As you like; what does it 
matter? I was going to say, as you have that sort of 
appearance, your company will produce a favourable effect 
on Mrs. Tackleton that will be. And, though I don't think 



230 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

your good lady's very friendly to me, in this matter, still 
she can't help herself from falling into my views, for there's 
a compactness and cosiness of appearance about her that 
always tells, even in an indifferent case. You'll say you'll 
come ? " 

"We have arranged to keep our Wedding-Day (as far as 
that goes) at home," said John. " We have made the promise 
to ourselves these six months. We think, you see, that 
home " 

" Bah ! what's home ? " cried Tackleton. " Four walls and 
a ceiling ! (why don't you kill that Cricket ? / would ! I 
always do. I hate their noise.) There are four walls and a 
ceiling at my house. Come to me ! " 

" You kill your Crickets, eh ? " said John. 

"Scrunch 'em, sir," returned the other, setting his heel 
heavily on the floor. " You'll say you'll come ? It's as much 
your interest as mine, you know, that the women should 
persuade each other that they're quiet and contented, and 
couldn't be better off'. I know their way. Whatever one 
woman says, another woman is determined to clinch, always. 
There's that spirit of emulation among 'em, sir, that if your 
wife says to my wife, Tin the happiest woman in the world, 
and mine's the best husband in the world, and I dote on 
him,' my wife will say the same to yours, or more, and half 
believe it." 

"Do you mean to say she don't, then?" asked the 
Carrier. 

"Don't!" cried Tackleton, with a short, sharp laugh. 
"Don't what?" 

The Carrier had some faint idea of adding, "dote upon 
you." But, happening to meet the half-closed eye, as it 
twinkled upon him over the turned-up collar of the cape, 
which was within an ace of poking it out, he felt it such an 
unlikely part and parcel of anything to be doted on, that he 
substituted, " that she don't believe it ? " 

" Ah you dog ! You're joking," said Tackleton. 



DOT ASTONISHES THE CARRIER. 231 

But the Carrier, though slow to understand the full drift 
of his meaning, eyed him in such a serious manner, that he 
was obliged to be a little more explanatory. 

" I have the humour," said Tackleton : holding up the 
fingers of his left hand, and tapping the forefinger, to imply 
"there I am, Tackleton to wit:" "I have the humour, sir, 
to marry a young wife, and a pretty wife : " here he rapped 
his little finger, to express the Bride; not -sparingly, but 
sharply ; with a sense of power. " Fm able to gratify that 
humour and I do. It's my whim. But now look there ! " 

He pointed to where Dot was sitting, thoughtfully, before 
the fire ; leaning her dimpled chin upon her hand, and watch- 
ing the bright blaze. The Carrier looked at her, and then 
at him, and then at her, and then at him again. 

" She honours and obeys, no doubt, you know, 1 " said 
Tackleton ; " and that, as I am not a man of sentiment, is 
quite enough for me. But do you think there's anything 
more in it?" 

" I think," observed the Carrier, " that I should chuck any 
man out of window, who said there wasn't." 

" Exactly so," returned the other with an unusual alacrity 
of assent. " To be sure ! Doubtless you would. Of course. 
Tin certain of it. Good night. Pleasant dreams ! " 

The Carrier was puzzled, and made uncomfortable and 
uncertain, in spite of himself. He couldn't help showing it, 
in his manner. 

"Good night, my dear friend!" said Tackleton, compas- 
sionately. " I'm off. We're exactly alike, in reality, I see. 
You won't give us to-morrow evening ? Well ! Next day 
you go out visiting, I know. I'll meet you there, and bring 
my wife that is to be. It'll do her good. You're agreeable ? 
Thank'ee. What's that!" 

It was a loud cry from the Carrier's wife: a loud, sharp, 
sudden cry, that made the room ring, like a glass vessel 
She had risen from her seat, and stood like one transfixed 
by terror and surprise. The Stranger had advanced towards 



232 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

the fire to warm himself, and stood within a short stride of 
her chair. But quite still. 

" Dot ! " cried the Carrier. " Mary ! Darling ! What's the 
matter ? " 

They were all about her in a moment. Caleb, who hud 
been dozing on the cake-box, in the first imperfect recovery 
of his suspended presence of mind, seized Miss Slowboy by the 
hair of her head, but immediately apologised. 

" Mary ! " exclaimed the Carrier, supporting her in his arms. 
" Are you ill ! What is it ? Tell me, dear ! " 

She only answered by beating her hands together, and 
falling into a wild fit of laughter. Then, sinking from his 
grasp upon the ground, she covered her face with her apron, 
and wept bitterly. And then she laughed again, and then 
she cried again, and then she said how cold it was, and 
suffered him to lead her to the fire, where she sat down as 
before. The old man standing, as before, quite still. 

" Fin better, John," she said. " Tin quite well now I 

" John ! " But John was on the other side of her. Why 
turn her face towards the strange old gentleman, as if address- 
ing him ! Was her brain wandering ? 

"Only a fancy, John dear a kind of shock a something 
coming suddenly before my eyes I don't know what it was. 
It's quite gone, quite gone."" 

"I'm glad it's gone," muttered Tackleton, turning the ex- 
pressive eye all round the room. " I wonder where it's gone, 
and what it was. Humph ! Caleb, come here ! \Vho's that 
with the grey hair ? " 

" I don't know, sir," returned Caleb in a whisper. " Never 
see him before, in all my life. A beautiful figure for a 
nut-cracker; quite a new model. With a screw-jaw opening 
down into his waistcoat, he'd be lovely." 

" Not ugly enough," said Tackleton. 

"Or for a firebox, either," observed Caleb, in deep con- 
templation, "what a model! Unscrew his head to put 
the matches in; turn him heels up'ards for the light; and 



THE STRANGER ASKS FOR SHELTER. 233 

what a firebox for a gentleman's mantel-shelf, just as he 
stands ! " 

" N 7 ot half ugly enough," said Tackleton. " Nothing in him 
at all ! Come ! Bring that box ! All right now, I hope ?" 

"Oh quite gone! Quite gone!" said the little woman, 
waving him hurriedly away. "Good night!" 

" Good night," said Tackleton. " Good night, John Peery- 
bingle ! Take care how you carry that box, Caleb. Let it 
fall, and I'll murder you ! Dark as pitch, and weather worse 
than ever, eh ? Good night ! " 

So, with another sharp look round the room, he went out 
at the door; followed by Caleb with the wedding-cake on 
his head. 

The Carrier had been so much astounded by his little wife, 
and so busily engaged in soothing and tending her, that he 
had scarcely been conscious of the Stranger's presence, until 
now, when he again stood there, their only guest. 

" He don't belong to them, you see," said John. " I must 
give him a hint to go." 

"I beg your pardon, friend," said the old gentleman, 
advancing to him ; " the more so, as I fear your wife has not 
been well ; but the Attendant whom my infirmity," he 
touched his ears and shook his head, "renders almost indis- 
pensable, not having arrived, I fear there must be some 
mistake. The bad night which made the shelter of your 
comfortable cart (may I never have a w orse !) so acceptable, 
is still as bad as ever. Would you, in your kindness, suffer 
me to rent a bed here? 11 

" Yes, yes," cried Dot. " Yes ! Certainly ! " 

" Oh ! " said the Carrier, surprised by the rapidity of this 
consent. "Well! I don't object; but, still I'm not quite 
sure that " 

" Hush ! " she interrupted. " Dear John ! " 

" Why, he's stone deaf," urged John. 

" I know he is, but Yes, sir, certainly. Yes ! certainly ! 
I'll make him up a bed, directlv, John." 



234 THE CRICKET ON 7 THE HEARTH. 

As she hurried off to do it, the flutter of her spirits, and 
the agitation of her manner, were so strange that the Carrier 
stood looking after her, quite confounded. 

" Did its mothers make it up a Beds then ! " cried Miss 
Slowhoy to the Baby ; " and did its hair grow brown and 
curly, when its caps was lifted off, and frighten it, a precious 
Pets, a-sitting by the fires ! " 

With that unaccountable attraction of the mind to trifles, 
which is often incidental to a state of doubt and confusion, 
the Carrier, as he walked slowly to and fro, found himself 
mentally repeating even these absurd words, many times. So 
many times that he got them by heart, and was still conning 
them over and over, like a lesson, when Tilly, after adminis- 
tering as much friction to the little bald head with her hand 
as she thought wholesome (according to the practice of nurses), 
had once more tied the Baby's cap on. 

"And frighten it, a precious Pets, a-sitting by the fires. 
What frightened Dot, I wonder ! " mused the Carrier, pacing 
to and fro. 

He scouted, from his heart, the insinuations of the Toy- 
merchant, and yet they filled him with a vague, indefinite 
uneasiness. For, Tackleton was quick and sly ; and he had 
that painful sense, himself, of being a man of slow perception, 
that a broken hint was always worrying to him. He certainly 
had no intention in his mind of linking anything that 
Tackleton had said, with the unusual conduct of his wife, but 
the two subjects of reflection came into his mind together, 
and he could not keep them asunder. 

The bed was soon made ready ; and the visitor, declining all 
refreshment but a cup of tea, retired. Then, Dot quite well 
again, she said, quite well again arranged the great chair in 
the chimney-corner for her husband ; filled his pipe and gave it 
him ; and took her usual little stool beside him on the hearth. 

She always would sit on that little stool. I think she must 
have had a kind of notion that it was a coaxing, wheedling, 
little stool. 



JOHN AND DOT. 



235 



She was, out and out, the very best filler of a pipe, I should 
say, in the four quarters of the globe. To see her put that 
chubby little finger in the bowl, and then blow down the 

pipe to clear the tube, and, 
. A ^,- when she had done so, affect 

to think that there was really 
something in the tube, and 
blow a dozen times, and hold 
it to her eye 
like a tele- 
scope, with a 
most provok- 
ing twist in 
her capital 
little face, as 
she looked 
down it, was 
quite a bril- 
liant thing. 
As to the 
tobacco, she 
was perfect 
mistress of 
the subject ; 
and her light- 
ing of the 
pipe, with a 
wisp of paper, 

when the Carrier had it in his mouth going so very near 
his nose, and yet not scorching it was Art, high Art. 

And the Cricket and the kettle, turning up again, acknow- 
ledged it ! The bright fire, blazing up again, acknowledged 
it ! The little Mower on the clock, in his unheeded work, 
acknowledged it ! The Carrier, in his smoothing forehead 
and expanding face, acknowledged it, the readiest of all. 
And as he soberly and thoughtfully puffed at his old pipe, 




236 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

and as the Dutch clock ticked, and as the red fire gleamed, 
and as the Cricket chirped ; that Genius of his Hearth and 
Home (for such the Cricket was) came out, in fairy shape, into 
the room, and summoned many forms of Home about him. 
Dots of all ages, and all sizes, filled the chamber. Dots who 
were merry children, running on before him gathering flowers, 
in the fields ; coy Dots, half shrinking from, half yielding to, 
the pleading of his own rough image ; newly-married Dots, 
alighting at the door, and taking wondering possession of the 
household keys ; motherly little Dots, attended by fictitious 
Slowboys, bearing babies to be christened ; matronly Dots, 
still young and blooming, watching Dots of daughters, as 
they danced at rustic balls ; fat Dots, encircled and beset by 
troops of rosy grandchildren ; withered Dots, who leaned on 
sticks, and tottered as they crept along. Old Carriers too, 
appeared, with blind old Boxers lying at their feet ; and newer 
carts with younger drivers (" Peerybingle Brothers'" on the 
tilt) ; and sick old Carriers, tended by the gentlest hands ; and 
graves of dead and gone old Carriers, green in the church- 
yard. And as the Cricket showed him all these things he 
saw them plainly, though his eyes were fixed upon the fire 
the Carrier's heart grew light and happy, and he thanked 
his Household Gods with all his might, and cared no more 
for Gruff and Tackleton than you do. 

But, what was that young figure of a man, which the 
same Fairy Cricket set so near Her stool, and which remained 
there, singly and alone? Why did it linger still, so near 
her. with its arm upon the chimney-piece, ever repeating 
" Married ! and not to me ! " 

O Dot ! O failing Dot ! There is no place for it in all 
your husband's visions; why has its shadow fallen on his 
hearth ! 




ALEB PLUMMER 

and his Blind Daugh- 
ter lived all alone by 
themselves, as the 

Story-books say and / frs**" s . v !$ my blessing, with 

yours to back it 
I hope, on the 
Story-books, for 
saying anything 
in this workaday 
world ! Caleb 
Plummer and his 
Blind Daughter 
lived all alone 
by themselves, in 
a little cracked 
nutshell of a 
wooden house, 
which was, in 
truth, no better 
than a pimple 
on the prominent 
red-brick nose of Gruff and Tackleton. The premises of Gruff 
and Tackleton were the great feature of the street; but you 
might have knocked down Caleb Plummets dwelling with a 
hammer or two, and carried off the pieces in a cart. 



238 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

If any one had done the dwelling-house of Caleb Plummer 
the honour to miss it after such an inroad, it would have 
been, no doubt, to commend its demolition as a vast improve- 
ment. It stuck to the premises of Gruff and Tackleton, like 
a barnacle to a ship's keel, or a snail to a door, or a little 
bunch of toadstools to the stem of a tree. But, it was the 
germ from which the full-grown trunk of Gruft'and Tackleton 
had sprung ; and, under its crazy roof, the Gruff' before last, 
had, in a small way, made toys for a generation of old boys 
and girls, who had played with them, and found them out, 
and broken them, and gone to sleep. 

I have said that Caleb and his poor Blind Daughter lived 
here. I should have said that Caleb lived here, and his poor 
Blind Daughter somewhere else in an enchanted home of 
Caleb's furnishing, where scarcity and shabbiness were not, 
and trouble never entered. Caleb was no sorcerer, but in the 
only magic art that still remains to us, the magic of devoted, 
deathless love, Nature had been the mistress of his study ; and 
from her teaching, all the wonder came. 

The Blind Girl never knew that ceilings were discoloured, 
walls blotched and bare of plaster here and there, high crevices 
unstopped and widening every day, beams mouldering and 
tending downward. The Blind Girl never knew that iron 
Avas rusting, wood rotting, paper peeling off'; the size, and 
shape, and true proportion of the dwelling, withering away. 
The Blind Girl never knew that ugly shapes of delf and 
earthenware were on the board ; that sorrow and fainthearted- 
ness were in the house ; that Caleb's scanty hairs were turning 
greyer and more grey, before her sightless face. The Blind 
Girl never knew they had a master, cold, exacting, and 
uninterested never knew that Tackleton was Tackleton in 
short ; but lived in the belief of an eccentric humourist who 
loved to have his jest with them, and who, while he Avas the 
Guardian Angel of their lives, disdained to hear one word 
of thankfulness. 

And all was Caleb's doing; all the doing of her simple 



CALKB AND HIS BLIND DAUGHTER. 230 

father! But he too had a Cricket on his Hearth; and 
listening sadly to its music when the motherless Blind Child 
was very young, that Spirit had inspired him with the 
thought that even her great deprivation might be almost 
changed into a blessing, and the girl made happy by these 
little means. For all the Cricket tribe are potent Spirits, 
even though the people who hold converse with them do not 
know it (which is frequently the case) ; and there are not in 
the unseen world, voices more gentle and more true, that 
may be so implicitly relied on, or that are so certain to give 
none but tenderest counsel, as the Voices in which the Spirits 
of the Fireside and the Hearth address themselves to human 
kind. 

Caleb and his daughter were at work together in their usual 
working-room, which served them for their ordinary living- 
room as well ; and a strange place it was. There were houses 
in it, finished and unfinished, for Dolls of all stations in life. 
Suburban tenements for Dolls of moderate means ; kitchens 
and single apartments for Dolls of the lower classes ; capital 
town residences for Dolls of high estate. Some of these estab- 
lishments were already furnished according to estimate, with 
a view to the convenience of Dolls of limited income ; others 
could be fitted on the most expensive scale, at a moment's 
notice, from whole shelves of chairs and tables, sofas, bed- 
steads, and upholstery. The nobility and gentry, and public 
in general, for whose accommodation these tenements were 
designed, lay, here and there, in baskets, staring straight up 
at the ceiling; but, in denoting their degrees in society, and 
confining them to their respective stations (which experience 
shows to be lamentably difficult in real life), the makers of 
these Dolls had far improved on Nature, /who is often froward 
and perverse ; for, they, not resting on such arbitrary marks 
as satin, cotton-print, and bits of rag, had superadded striking 
personal differences which allowed of no mistake. Thus, the 
Doll-lady of distinction had wax limbs of perfect symmetry ; 
but only she and her compeers. The next grade in the 



240 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

social scale being made of leather, and the next of coarse linen 
stuff. As to the common-people, they had just so many 
matches out of tinder-boxes, for their arms and legs, and 
there they were established in their sphere at once, beyond 
the possibility of getting out of it. 

There were various other samples of his handicraft, besides 
Dolls, in Caleb Plummets room. There were Noah's Arks, in 
which the Birds and Beasts were an uncommonly tight fit, I 
assure you ; though they could be crammed in, anyhow, at 
the roof, and rattled and shaken into the smallest compass. 
By a bold poetical licence, most of these Noah's Arks had 
knockers on the doors; inconsistent appendages, perhaps, as 
suggestive of morning callers and a Postman, yet a pleasant 
finish to the outside of the building. There were scores of 
melancholy little carts which, when the wheels went round, 
performed most doleful music. Many small fiddles, drums, 
and other instruments of torture ; no end of cannon, shields, 
swords, spears, and guns. There were little tumblers in red 
breeches, incessantly swarming up high obstacles of red-tape, 
and coming down, head first, on the other side ; and there 
were innumerable old gentlemen of respectable, not to say 
venerable, appearance, insanely flying over horizontal pegs, 
inserted, for the purpose, in their own street doors. 
There were beasts of all sorts ; horses, in particular, of 
every breed, from the spotted barrel on four pegs, with 
a small tippet for a mane, to the thoroughbred rocker 
on his highest mettle. As it would have been hard to 
count the dozens upon dozens of grotesque figures that were 
ever ready to commit all sorts of absurdities on the turning 
of a handle, so it would have been no easy task to mention 
any human folly, vice, or weakness, that had not its type, 
immediate or remote, in Caleb Hummer's room. And not 
in an exaggerated form, for very little handles will move 
men and women to as strange performances, as anv Toy was 
ever made to undertake. 

In the midst of all these objects, Caleb and his daughter 



CALEB AT WORK. 



241 



sat at work. The Blind Girl busy as a Doll's dressmaker; 
Caleb pranting and glazing the four-pair front of a desirable 
family mansion. 

The care imprinted in the lines of Caleb's face, and his 
absorbed and dreamy manner, which 
would have sat well on some alchemist 
or abstruse student, were at 
first sight an odd contrast 
to his occupation, and the 
trivialities about him. But, 
trivial things, invented and 
pursued for 
bread, become 
very serious 
matters of 
fact ; and, 
apart from 
this conside- 
ration, I am 
not at all pre- 
pared to say, 
myself, that 
if" Caleb had 
been a Lord 
Chamberlain, 
or a Member 
of Parliament, 
or a lawyer, 
or even a great 
speculator, he 

would have dealt in toys one whit lea's whimsical, while I 
have a very great doubt whether they would have been as 
harmless. 

" So you were out in the rain last night, father, in your 
beautiful new great-coat," said Caleb's daughter. 

" In my beautiful new great-coat," answered Caleb, glancing 




242 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

towards a clothes-line in the room, on which the sack-cloth 
garment previously described, was carefully hung up to dry. 

" How glad I am you bought it, father ! " 

" And of such a tailor, too," said Caleb. " Quite a fashion- 
able tailor. It's too good for me. 11 

The Blind Girl rested from her work, and laughed with 
delight. " Too good, father ! What can be too good for 
you ? " 

" I'm half-ashamed to wear it though," said Caleb, watching 
the effect of what he said, upon her brightening face ; " upon 
my word ! When I hear the boys and people say behind me, 
' Hal-loa ! Here's a swell ! ' I don't know which way to 
look. And when the beggar wouldn't go away last night ; 
and when I said I was a very common man, said ' No, your 
Honour ! Bless your Honour, don't say that ! ' I was quite 
ashamed. I really felt as if I hadn't a right to wear it." 

Happy Blind Girl ! How merry she was, in her exultation ! 

" I see you, father," she said, clasping her hands, " as 
plainly, as if I had the eyes I never want when you are with 
me. A blue coat " 

" Bright blue," said Caleb. 

" Yes, yes ! Bright blue ! " exclaimed the girl, turning up 
her radiant face ; " the colour I can just remember in the 
blessed sky ! You told me it was blue before ! A bright 
blue coat " 

" Made loose to the figure," suggested Caleb. 

" Made loose to the figure ! " cried the Blind Girl, laughing 
heartily ; " and in it, you. dear father, with your merry eye, 
your smiling face, your free step, and your dark hair looking 
so young and handsome ! " 

"Halloa! Halloa!" said Caleb. "I shall be vain, 
presently ! " 

" 1 think you are, already," cried the Blind Girl, pointing 
at him, in her glee. " I know you, father ! Ha, ha, ha ! 
I've found you out, you see ! " 

How different the picture in her mind, from Caleb, as he 



A SONG OF THE SPARKLING BOWL. 243 

sat observing her ! She had spoken of his free step. She 
was right in that. For years and years, he had never once 
crossed that threshold at his own slow pace, but with a foot- 
fall counterfeited for her ear ; and never had he, when his 
heart was heaviest, forgotten the light tread that was to 
render hers so cheerful and courageous ! 

Heaven knows ! But I think Caleb's vague bewilderment 
of manner may have half originated in his having confused 
himself about himself and everything around him, for the 
love of his Blind Daughter. How could the little man be 
otherwise than bewildered, after labouring for so many years 
to destroy his own identity, and that of all the objects that 
had any bearing on it ! 

" There we are," said Caleb, falling back a pace or two 
to form the better judgment of his work ; " as near the real 
thing as sixpenn'orth of halfpence is to sixpence. What 
a pity that the whole front of the house opens at once ! 
If there was only a staircase in it, now, and regular doors 
to the rooms to go in at ! But that's the worst of my call- 
ing, Fm always deluding myself, and swindling myself." 

" You are speaking quite softly. You are not tired, father ? "" 

" Tired ! " echoed Caleb, with a great burst of animation, 
" what should tire me, Bertha ? / was never tired. AVhat 
does it mean ? r> 

To give the greater force to his words, he checked himself 
in an involuntary imitation of two half-length stretching 
and yawning figures on the mantel-shelf, who were represented 
as in one eternal state of weariness from the waist upwards ; 
and hummed a fragment of a song. It was a Bacchanalian 
song, something about a Sparkling Bowl. He sang it with 
an assumption of a Devil-may-care voice, that made his face 
a thousand times more meagre and more thoughtful than ever. 

" What ! You're singing, are you ? " said Tackleton, 
putting his head in at the door. " Go it ! / can't sing." 

Nobody would have suspected him of it. He hadn't what 
is generally termed a singing face, by any means. 



244 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

" I can't afford to sing," said Tackleton. " Fin glad you 
can. I hope you can afford to work too. Hardly time for 
both, I should think ? " 

If you could only see him, Bertha, how he's winking at 
me !" whispered Caleb. " Such a man to joke !^ you'd think, 
if you didn't know him, he was in earnest wouldn't you now ? * 
The Blind Girl smiled and nodded. 

" The bird that can sing and won't sing, must be made to 
sing, they say," grumbled Tackleton. " What about the owl 
that can't sing, and oughtn't to sing, and will sing ; is there 
anything that he should be made to do ? " 

"The extent to which he's winking at this moment!' 
whispered Caleb to his daughter. " O, my gracious ! " 

"Always merry and light-hearted with us!" cried the 
smiling Bertha. 

"0, you're there, are you?" answered Tackleton. " Poor 
Idiot!" 

He really did believe she was an Idiot ; and he founded 
the belief, I can't say whether consciously or not, upon her 
being fond of him. 

"Well! and being there, how are you:'" said Tackleton, 
in his grudging way. 

" Oh ! well ; quite well. And as happy as even you can 
wish me to be. As happy as you would make the whole 
world, if you could ! " 

" Poor Idiot ! " muttered Tackleton. " No gleam of reason. 
Not a gleam ! " 

The Blind Girl took his hand and kissed it ; held it for a 
moment in her own two hands ; and laid her cheek against 
it tenderly, before releasing it. There was such unspeak- 
able affection and such fervent gratitude in the act, that 
Tackleton himself was moved to say, in a milder growl than 
usual : 

"What's the matter now ?" 

"I stood it close beside my pillow when I went to sleep 
last night, and remembered it in my dreams. And when 



CALEB'S INNOCENT DECEPTION. 245 

the day broke, and the glorious red sun the red sun, 
father ? " 

" Red in the mornings and the evenings, Bertha, 11 said poor 
Caleb, with a woeful glance at his employer. 

"When it rose, and the bright light I almost fear to 
strike myself against in walking, came into the room, I 
turned the little tree towards it, and blessed Heaven for 
making things so precious, and blessed you for sending them 
to cheer me ! " 

" Bedlam broke loose ! " said Tackleton under his breath. 
" We shall arrive at the strait- waistcoat and mufflers soon. 
We're getting on ! " 

Caleb, with his hands hooked loosely in each other, stared 
vacantly before him while his daughter spoke, as if he really 
were uncertain (I believe he was) whether Tackleton had done 
anything to deserve her thanks, or not. If he could have 
been a perfectly free agent, at that moment, required, on 
pain of death, to kick the Toy-merchant, or fall at his feet, 
according to his merits, I believe it would have been an even 
chance which course he would have taken. Yet, Caleb knew 
that with his own hands he had brought the little rose-tree 
home for her, so carefully, and that with his own lips he had 
forged the innocent deception which should help to keep her 
from suspecting how much, how very much, he every day 
denied himself, that she might be the happier. 

" Bertha ! v said Tackleton, assuming, for the nonce, a little 
cordiality. " Come here.' 1 '' 

" Oh ! I can come straight to you ! You needn't guide 
me ! " she rejoined. 

"Shall I tell you a secret, Bertha?" 

" If you will ! " she answered, eagerly. ' 

How bright the darkened face ! How adorned with light, 
the listening head ! 

"This is the day on which little whatVher-name, the 
spoilt child, Peerybingle's wife, pays her regular visit to 
vou makes her fantastic Fic-Nic here ; an't it ? " said 



046 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

Tackleton, with a strong expression of distaste for the whole- 
concern. 

" Yes," replied Bertha. " This is the day." 

"I thought so," said Tackleton. "I should like to join 
the party." 

" Do you hear that, father ! " cried the Blind Girl in an 
ecstasy. 

" Yes, yes, I hear it," murmured Caleb, with the fixed look 
of a sleep-walker; "but I don't believe it- It's one of my 
lies, I've no doubt." 

"You see I I want to bring the Peerybingles a little 
more into company with May Fielding," said Tackleton. " 1 
am going to be married to May.' 

" Married ! " cried the Blind Girl, starting from him. 

" She's such a con-founded Idiot," muttered Tackleton, 
" that I was afraid she'd never comprehend me. Ah, Bertha ! 
Married ! Church, parson, clerk, beadle, glass-coach, bells, 
breakfast, bride-cake, favours, marrow-bones, cleavers, and 
all the rest of the torn-foolery. A wedding, you know ; a 
wedding. Don't you know what a wedding is ? " 

" I know," replied the Blind Girl, in a gentle tone. " I 
understand ! " 

" Do you ? " muttered Tackleton. " It's more than I ex- 
pected. Well ! On that account I want to join the party, 
and to bring May and her mother. I'll send in a little 
something or other, before the afternoon. A cold leg of 
mutton, or some comfortable trifle of that sort. You'll 
expect me ? " 

"Yes," she answered. 

She had drooped her head, and turned away ; and so stood, 
with her hands crossed, musing. 

"I don't think you will," muttered Tackleton, looking at 
her ; " for you seem to have forgotten all about it, already. 
Caleb ! " 

" I may venture to say I'm here, I suppose," thought Caleb. 

" Sir ! " 



A CHECK UPON BERTHA'S GAIETY. 247 

" Take care -she don't forget what Fve been saying to her." 

" SJie never forgets," returned Caleb. " It's one of the few 
tilings she ant clever in." 

" Every man thinks his own geese swans, 11 observed the 
Toy-merchant, with a shrug. " Poor devil ! " 

Having delivered himself of which remark, with infinite 
contempt, old Gruff and Tackleton withdrew. 

Bertha remained where he had left her, lost in meditation. 
The gaiety had vanished from her downcast face, and it was 
very sad. Three or four times, she shook her head, as if be- 
wailing some remembrance or some loss; but her sorrowful 
reflections found no vent in words. 

It was not until Caleb had been occupied, some time, in 
yoking a team of horses to a waggon by the summary pro- 
cess of nailing the harness to the vital parts of their bodies, 
that she drew near to his working-stool, and sitting down 
beside him, said : 

"Father, I am lonely in the dark. I want my eyes, im- 
patient, willing eyes. 11 

" Here they are, 11 said Caleb. " Always ready. They are 
more yours than mine, Bertha, any hour in the four-and- 
twenty. What shall your eyes do for you, dear ? " 

" Look round the room, father. 11 

" All right, 11 said Caleb. " No sooner said than done, 
Bertha. 11 

"Tell me about it. 11 

" It's much the same as usual, 11 said Caleb. " Homely, but 
very snug. The gay colours on the walls ; the bright flowers 
on the plates and dishes ; the shining wood, where there are 
beams or panels ; the general cheerfulness and neatness of the 
building ; make it very pretty. 11 , 

Cheerful and neat it was wherever Bertha's hands could 
busy themselves. But nowhere else, were cheerfulness and 
neatness possible, in the old crazy shed which Caleb 1 * fancy 
so transformed. 

" You have your working dress on, and are not so gallant 



248 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

as when you wear the handsome coat ? " said Bertha, touch- 
ing him. 

'"Not quite so gallant, 11 answered Caleb. "Pretty brisk 
though." 

"Father," said the Blind Girl, drawing close to his side, 
and stealing one arm round his neck, "tell me something 
about May. She is very fair?" 

" She is indeed," said Caleb. And she was indeed. It was 
quite a rare thing to Caleb, not to have to draw on his 
invention. 

"Her hair is dark," said Bertha, pensively, "darker than 
mine. Her voice is sweet and musical, I know. I have often 
loved to hear it. Her shape 

"There's not a Doll's in all the room to equal it," said 
Caleb. " And her eyes ! 

He stopped ; for Bertha had drawn closer round his neck, 
and from the arm that clung about him, came a warning 
pressure which he understood too well. 

He coughed a moment, hammered for a moment, and then 
fell back upon the song about the sparkling bowl ; his in- 
fallible resource in all such difficulties. 

" Our friend, father, our benefactor. I am never tired, you 
know, of hearing about him. Now, was I ever?" she said, 
hastily. 

" Of course not," answered Caleb, " and with reason." 

"Ah! With how much reason!" cried the Blind Girl. 
With such fervency, that Caleb, though his motives were so 
pure, could not endure to meet her face; but dropped his 
eyes, as if she could have read in them his innocent deceit. 

" Then, tell me again about him, dear father," said Bertha. 
" Many times again ! His face is benevolent, kind, and tender. 
Honest and true, I am sure it is. The manly heart that 
tries to cloak all favours with a show of roughness and un- 
willingness, beats in its every look and glance." 

" And makes it noble ! " added Caleb, in his quiet 
Desperation. 



GETTING THE BABY UNDER WEIGH. 249 

" And makes it noble ! " cried the Blind Girl. " He is 
older than May, father. 11 

" Ye-es," said Caleb, reluctantly. " He's a little older than 
May. But that don't signify."" 

" Oh father, yes ! To be his patient companion in infirmity 
and age ; to be his gentle nurse in sickness, and his constant 
friend in suffering and sorrow ; to know no weariness in 
working for his sake ; to watch him, tend him, sit beside his 
bed and talk to him awake, and pray for him asleep ; what 
privileges these would be ! What opportunities for proving 
all her truth and devotion to him ! Would she do all this, 
dear father ? " 

" No doubt of it," said Caleb. 

" I love her, father ; I can love her from my soul ! " ex- 
claimed the Blind Girl. And saying so, she laid her poor 
blind face on Caleb's shoulder, and so wept and wept, that. 
he was almost sorry to have brought that tearful happiness 
upon her. 

In the mean time, there had been a pretty sharp commotion 
at John Peerybingle's, for little Mrs. Peerybingle naturally 
couldn't think of going anywhere without the Baby ; and to 
get the Baby under weigh took time. Not that there was 
much of the Baby, speaking of it as a thing of weight and 
measure, but there was a vast deal to do about and about it, 
and it all had to be done by easy stages. For instance, when 
the Baby was got, by hook and by crook, to a certain point 
of dressing, and you might have rationally supposed that 
another touch or two would finish him off, and turn him out 
a tip-top Baby challenging the world, he was unexpectedly 
extinguished in a flannel cap, and hustled off to bed ; where 
he simmered (so to speak) between two blankets for the best 
part of an hour. From this state of inaction he was then 
recalled, shining very much and roaring violently, to partake 
of W ell ? I would rather say, if you'll permit me to speak 
generally of a slight repast. After which, he went to sleep 
again. Mrs. Peerybingle took advantage of this interval, to 



250 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

make herself as smart in a small way as ever you saw anybody 
in all your life; and, during the same short truce, Miss 
Slowboy insinuated herself into a spencer of a fashion so 
surprising and ingenious, that it had no connection with 
herself, or anything else in the universe, but was a shrunken, 
dog's-eared, independent fact, pursuing its lonely course with- 
out the least regard to anybody. By this time, the Baby, 
being all alive again, was invested, by the united efforts of 
Mrs. Peerybingle and Miss Slowboy, with a cream-coloured 
mantle for its body, and a sort of nankeen raised-pie for its 
head ; and so in course of time they all three got down to the 
door, where the old horse had already taken more than the full 
value of his day's toll out of the Turnpike Trust, by tearing 
up the road with his impatient autographs ; and whence Boxer 
might be dimly seen in the remote perspective, standing look- 
ing back, and tempting him to come on without orders. 

As to a chair, or anything of that kind for helping Mrs. 
Peerybingle into the cart, you know very little of John, if you 
think that was necessary. Before you could have seen him 
lift her from the ground, there she was in her place, fresh 
and rosy, saying, " John ! How can you ! Think of Tilly ! " 

If I might be allowed to mention a young lady's legs, on 
any terms, I would observe of Miss Slowboy's that there was 
a fatality about them which rendered them singularly liable to 
be grazed ; and that she never effected the smallest ascent or 
descent, without recording the circumstance upon them with 
a notch, as Robinson Crusoe marked the days upon his wooden 
calendar. But as this might be considered ungenteel, I'll 
think of it. 

"John? You've got the Basket with the Veal and Ham- 
Pie and things, and the bottles of Beer?" said Dot. "If 
you haven't, you must turn round again, this very minute.' 1 

" You're a nice little article," returned the Carrier, " to be 
talking about turning round, after keeping me a full quarter 
of an hour behind my time." 

"I am sorry for it, John," said Dot in a great bustle, 



CONCERNING THE OLD GENTLEMAN 7 . 251 

" but I really could not think of going to Bertha's I would 
not do it, John, on any account without the Veal and Ham- 
Pie and things, and the bottles of Beer. Way !" 

This monosyllable was addressed to the horse, who didn't 
mind it at all. 

" Oh do way, John ! " said Mrs. Peerybingle. " Please ! " 

" It'll be time enough to do that," returned John, " when 
I begin to leave things behind me. The basket's here, safe 
enough." 

" AVhat a hard-hearted monster you must be, John, not to 
have said so, at once, and save me such a turn ! I declared 
I wouldn't go to Bertha's without the Veal and Ham-Pie and 
things, and the bottles of Beer, for any money. Regularly 
once a fortnight ever since we have been married, John, have 
we made our little Pic-Nic there. If anything was to go 
wrong with it, I should almost think we were never to be 
lucky again." 

"It was a kind thought in the first instance," said the 
Carrier: "and I honour you for it, little woman." 

" My dear John," replied Dot, turning very red, " don't 
talk about honouring me. Good Gracious ! " 

"By the bye" observed the Carrier. "That old gentle- 
man 

Again so visibly, and instantly embarrassed ! 

"He's an odd fish," said the Carrier, looking straight 
along the road before them. " I can't make him out. I 
don't believe there's any harm in him." 

" None at all. I'm I'm sure there's none at all." 

" Yes," said the Carrier, with his eyes attracted to her face 
by the great earnestness of her manner. "I am glad you 
feel so certain of it, because it's a confirmation to me. It's 
curious that he should have taken it into his head to ask 
leave to go on lodging with us ; an't it ? Tilings come about 
so strangelv." 

" So very strangely," she rejoined in a low voice, scarcely 
audible. 



252 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

" However, he's a good-natured old gentleman," said John, 
"and pays as a gentleman, and I think his word is to be 
relied upon, like a gentleman's. I had quite a long talk with 
him this morning : he can hear me better already, he says, as 
he gets more used to my voice. He told me a great deal 
about himself, and I told him a great deal about myself, 
and a rare lot of questions he asked me. I gave him informa- 
tion about my having two beats, you know, in my business ; 
one day to the right from our house and back again ; 
another day to the left from our house and back again (for 
he's a stranger and don't know the names of places about 
here); and he seemed quite pleased. 'Why, then I shall be 
returning home to-night your way,' he says, ' when I thought 
you'd be coming in an exactly opposite direction. That's 
capital ! I may trouble you for another lift perhaps, but 
I'll engage not to fall so sound asleep again.' He rcY/.v sound 
asleep, sure-ly ! Dot ! what are you thinking of?" 

" Thinking of, John ? I I was listening to you." 

" O ! That's all right ! " said the honest Carrier. " I was 
afraid, from the look of your face, that I had gone rambling 
on so long, as to set you thinking about something else. I 
was very near it, I'll be bound." 

Dot making no reply, they jogged on, for some little time, 
in silence. But, it was not easy to remain silent very long 
in John Pecrybingle's cart, for everybody on the road had 
something to say. Though it might only be " How arc 
you!" and indeed it was very often nothing else, still, to 
give that back again in the right spirit of cordiality, required, 
not merely a nod and a smile, but as wholesome an action of 
the lungs withal, as a long-winded Parliamentary speech. 
Sometimes, passengers on foot, or horseback, plodded on a 
little way beside the cart, for the express purpose of having 
a chat ; and then there was a great deal to be said, on both 
sides. 

Then, Boxer gave occasion to more good-natured recogni- 
tions of, and by, the Carrier, than half-a-dozen Christians 



BOXER. 



253 



could have done ! Everybody knew him, all along the road 
especially the fowls and pigs, who when they saw him 
approaching, with his body all on one side, and his ears 
pricked up inquisitively, and that knob of a tail making the 
most of itself in the air, immediately withdrew into remote 
l>ack settlements, without waiting for the honour of a nearer 
acquaintance. He had business everywhere; going down all 
the turnings, looking into all the wells, bolting in and out 
of all the cottages, dashing into the midst of all the Dame- 
Schools, fluttering all the pigeons, magnifying the tails of all 
the cats, and trotting into the public-houses like a regular 
customer. Wherever he went, somebody or other might 
have been heard to cry, " Halloa ! Here's Boxer ! " and out 
came that some- 
bod v forthwith, 
accompanied bv 
at least two or 
three other some- 
bodies, to give 
John Peerybingle 
and his pretty 
wife, Good Day. 
The packages 

and pai-cels for the errand cart, were numerous ; and there 
were many stoppages to take them in and give them out, 
which were not by any means the worst parts of the journey. 
Some people were so full of expectation about their parcels, 
and other people were so full of wonder about their parcels, 
and other people were so full of inexhaustible directions about 
their parcels, and John had such a livejy interest in all the 
parcels, that it was as good as a play. Likewise, there were 
articles to carry, which required to be considered and dis- 
cussed, and in reference to the adjustment and disposition 
of which, councils had to be holden by the Carrier and the 
senders : at which Boxer usually assisted, in short fits of the 
closest attention, and long fits of tearing round and round 




254 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

the assembled sages and barking himself hoarse. Of all these 
little incidents, Dot was the amused and open-eyed spectatress 
from her chair in the cart ; and as she sat there, looking on 

. a charming little portrait framed to admiration by the tilt 

there was no lack of nudgings and glancings and whisper- 
ings and envyings among the younger men. And this de- 
lighted John the Carrier, beyond measure ; for he was proud 
to have his little wife admired, knowing that she didn't mind 
it that, if anything, she rather liked it perhaps. 

The trip was a little foggy, to be sure, in the January 
weather ; and was raw and cold. But who cared for such 
trifles? Not Dot, decidedly. Not Tilly Slowboy, for she 
deemed sitting in a cart, on any terms, to be the highest 
point of human joys ; the crowning circumstance of earthly 
hopes. Not the Baby, 111 be sworn ; for it's not in Baby 
nature to be warmer or more sound asleep, though its 
capacity is great in both respects, than that blessed young 
Peerybingle was, all the way. 

You couldn't see very far in the fog, of course ; but you 
could see a great deal ! It's astonishing how much you may 
see, in a thicker fog than that, if you will only take the 
trouble to look for it. Why, even to sit watching for the 
Fairy-rings in the fields, and for the patches of hoar-frost 
still lingering in the shade, near hedges and by trees, was a 
pleasant occupation : to make no mention of the unexpected 
shapes in which the trees themselves came starting out of 
the mist, and glided into it again. The hedges were tangled 
and bare, and waved a multitude of blighted garlands in the 
wind ; but there was no discouragement in this. It was 
agreeable to contemplate ; for it made the fireside warmer 
in possession, and the summer greener in expectancy. The 
river looked chilly; but it was in motion, and moving at a 
good pace which was a great point. The canal was rather 
slow and torpid; that must be admitted. Never mind. It 
would freeze the sooner when the frost set fairly in, and then 
there would be skating, and sliding; and the heavy old 



MAY FIELDING. J>53 

barges, frozen up somewhere near a wharf, would smoke their 
rusty iron chimney pipes all day, and have a lazy time of it. 

In one place, there was a great mound of weeds or stubble 
burning; and they watched the fire, so white in the day- 
time, flaring through the fog, with only here and there a 
dash of red in it, until, in consequence, as she observed, of the 
smoke "getting up her nose, 11 Miss Slowboy choked she 
could do anything of that sort, on the smallest provocation 
and woke the Baby, who wouldn^ go to sleep again. But, 
Boxer, who was in advance some quarter of a mile or so, had 
already passed the outposts of the town, and gained the 
corner of the street where Caleb and his daughter lived ; 
and long before they had reached the door, he and the Blind 
Girl were on the pavement waiting to receive them. 

Boxer, by the way, made certain delicate distinctions of 
his own, in his communication with Bertha, which persuade 
me fully that he knew her to be blind. He never sought to 
attract her attention by looking at her, as he often did with 
other people, but touched her invariably. What experience 
he could ever have had of blind people or blind dogs, I don't 
know. He had never lived with a blind master; nor had 
Mr. Boxer the elder, nor Mrs. Boxer, nor any of his re- 
spectable family on either side, ever been visited with blind- 
ness, that I am aware of. He may have found it out for 
himself, perhaps, but he had got hold of it somehow ; and 
therefore he had hold of Bertha too, by the skirt, and kept 
hold, until Mrs. Peerybingle and the Baby, and Miss Slow- 
boy, and the basket, were all got safely within doors. 

May Fielding was already come ; and so was her mother 
a little querulous chip of an old lady with a peevish face, 
who, in right of having preserved a waist like a bedpost, was 
supposed to be a most transcendent figure ; and who, in con- 
sequence of having once been better off, or of labouring under 
an impression that she might have been, if something had 
happened which never did happen, and seemed to have never 
been particularly likely to come to pass but ifs all the 



256 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

same was very genteel and patronising indeed. Gruff and 

Tackleton was' also there, doing the agreeable, with the 
evident sensation of being as perfectly at home, and as un- 
questionably in his own element, as a fresh young salmon on 
the top of the Great Pyramid. 

"May! My dear old friend! 11 cried Dot, running up to 
meet her. " What a happiness to see you." 

Her old friend was, to the full, as hearty and as glad as 
she; and it really was, if you'll believe me, quite a pleasant 
sight to see them embrace. Tackleton was a man of taste 
beyond all question. May was very pretty. 

You know sometimes, when you are used to a pretty face, 
how, when it comes into contact and comparison with another 
pretty face, it seems for the moment to be homely and faded, 
and hardly to deserve the high opinion you have had of it. 
Now, this was not at all the case, either with Dot or May ; 
for May's face set oft' Dot's, and Dot's face set off May's, so 
naturally and agreeably, that, as John Peerybingle was very 
near saying when he came into the room, they ought to 
have been born sisters which was the only improvement 
you could have suggested. 

Tackleton had brought his leg of mutton, and, wonderful 
to relate, a tart besides but we don't mind a little dissipa- 
tion when our brides are in the case ; we don't get married 
every day and in addition to these dainties, there were the 
Veal and Ham-Pie, and " things," as Mrs. Peerybingle called 
them; which were chiefly nuts and oranges, and cakes, and 
such small deer. When the repast was set forth on the 
board, flanked by Caleb's contribution, which was a great 
wooden bowl of smoking potatoes (he was prohibited, by 
solemn compact, from producing any other viands), Tackleton 
led his intended mother-in-law to the post of honour. For 
the better gracing of this place at the high festival, the 
majestic old soul had adorned herself with a cap, calculated 
to inspire the thoughtless with sentiments of awe. She also 
wore her gloves. But let us be genteel, or die ! 



THE PIC-NIC. 



257 




Caleb sat next his daughter ; Dot and her old schoolfellow 
were side by side ; the good Carrier took care of the bottom 
of the table. Miss Slowboy was isolated, for the time being, 
from every article of furniture but the chair she sat on, that 
she might have nothing else to knock the Baby's head against. 

As Tilly stared about her 
at the dolls and toys, they 
stared at her and at the 
company. The venerable old 
gentlemen at the street doors 
(who were all in full action) 
showed especial interest in 

the party, pausing occasion- : J^jl *K)jk^ 
ally before leaping, as if they ifilllillEsaStfL. .,.,.. 'i 
were listening to the conver- 
sation, and then plunging 
wildly over and over, a great 
many times, without halting for breath as in a frantic state 
of delight with the whole proceedings. 

Certainly, if these old gentlemen were inclined to have a 
fiendish joy in the contemplation of Tackleton's discomfiture, 
they had good reason to be satisfied. Tackleton couldn't get 
on at all ; and the more cheerful his intended bride became 
in Dot's society, the less he liked it, though he had brought 
them together for that purpose. For he was a regular dog 
in the manger, was Tackleton ; and when they laughed and 
he couldn't, he took it into his head, immediately, that they 
must be laughing at him. 

"Ah, May ! " said Dot. " Dear dear, what changes ! To 
talk of those merry school-days makes one young again." 

" Why, you an't particularly old, at any time ; are you ? " 
said Tackleton. 

" Ix)ok at my sober plodding husband there," returned Dot. 
"He adds twenty years to my age at least. Don't you, 
John ? " 

"Forty," John replied. 



258 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

" How many you\\ add to May's, I am sure I don't know," 
said Dot, laughing. "But she can't be much less than a 
hundred years of age on her next birthday." 

"Ha ha!" laughed Tackleton. Hollow as a drum, that 
laugh though. And he looked as if he could have twisted 
Dot's neck, comfortably. 

" Dear dear ! " said Dot. " Only to remember how we used 
to talk, at school, about the husbands we would choose. I 
don't know how young, and how handsome, and how gay, 
and how lively, mine was not to be ! And as to May's ! 
Ah dear! I don't know whether to laugh or cry, when I 
think what silly girls we were." 

May seemed to know which to do ; for the colour flushed 
into her face, and tears stood in her eyes. 

"Even the very persons themselves real live young men 
were fixed on sometimes," said Dot. "We little thought 
how things would come about. I never fixed on John I'm 
sure ; I never so much as thought of him. And if I had told 
you, you were ever to be married to Mr. Tackleton, why you'd 
have slapped me. Wouldn't you, May ? " 

Though May didn't say yes, she certainly didn't say no, or 
express no, by any means. 

Tackleton laughed quite shouted, he laughed so loud. 
John Peerybingle laughed too, in his ordinary good-natured 
and contented manner; but his was a mere whisper of a 
laugh, to Tackleton's. 

" You couldn't help yourselves, for all that. You couldn't 
resist us, you see," said Tackleton. " Here we are ! Here we 
are ! Where are your gay young bridegrooms now ! " 

" Some of them are dead," said Dot ; " and some of them 
forgotten. Some of them, if they could stand among us at 
this moment, would not believe we were the same creatures ; 
would not believe that what they saw and heard was real, 
and we could forget them so. No ! they would not believe 
one word of it ! " 

" Why, Dot ! " exclaimed the Carrier. " Little woman ! " 



MRS. FIELDING INTERPOSES. 259 

She had spoken with such earnestness and fire, that she 
stood in need of some recalling to herself, without doubt. 
Her husband's check was very gentle, for he merely inter- 
fered, as he supposed, to shield old Tackletou ; but it proved 
effectual, for she stopped, and said no more. There was an 
uncommon agitation, even in her silence, which the wary 
Tackleton, who had brought his half-shut eye to bear upon 
her, noted closely, and remembered to some purpose too. 

May uttered no word, good or bad, but sat quite still, with 
her eyes cast down, and made no sign of interest in what 
had passed. The good lady her mother now interposed, 
observing, in the first instance, that girls were girls, and 
byegones byegones, and that so long as young people were 
young and thoughtless, they would probably conduct them- 
selves like young and thoughtless persons : with two or three 
other positions of a no less sound and incontrovertible 
character. She then remarked, in a devout spirit, that she 
thanked Heaven she had always found in her daughter May, 
a dutiful and obedient child ; for which she took no credit 
to herself, though she had every reason to believe it was 
entirely owing to herself. With regard to Mr. Tackleton 
she said, That he was in a moral point of view an undeniable 
individual, and That he was in an eligible point of view a 
son-in-law to be desired, no one in their senses could doubt. 
(She was very emphatic here.) AVith regard to the family 
into which he was so soon about, after some solicitation, to 
be admitted, she believed Mr. Tackleton knew that, although 
reduced in purse, it had some pretensions to gentility ; and 
if certain circumstances, not wholly unconnected, she would 
go so far as to say, with the Indigo Trade, but to which she 
would not more particularly refer, had happened differently, 
it might perhaps have been in possession of wealth. She 
then remarked that she would not allude to the past, and 
would not mention that her daughter had for some time re- 
jected the suit of Mr. Tackleton ; and that she would not say 
a great many other things which she did say, at great length. 



260 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

Finally, she delivered it as the general result of her observa- 
tion and experience, that those marriages in which there was 
least of what was romantically and sillily called love, were 
always the happiest; and that she anticipated the greatest 
possible amount of bliss not rapturous bliss ; but the solid, 
steady-going article from the approaching nuptials. She 
concluded by informing the company that to-morrow was the 
day she had lived for, expressly ; and that when it was over, 
she would desire nothing better than to be packed up and 
disposed of, in any genteel place of burial. 

As these remarks were quite unanswerable which is the 
happy property of all remarks that are sufficiently wide of 
the purpose they changed the current of the conversation, 
and diverted the general attention to the Veal and Ham-Pie, 
the cold mutton, the potatoes, and the tart. In order that 
the bottled beer might not be slighted, John Peerybingle 
proposed To-morrow : the Wedding-Day ; and called upon 
them to drink a bumper to it, before he proceeded on his 
journey. 

For you ought to know that he only rested there, and 
gave the old horse a bait. He had to go some four or five 
miles farther on ; and when he returned in the evening, he 
called for Dot, and took another rest on his way home. 
This was the order of the day on all the Pic-Nic occasions, 
had been, ever since their institution. 

There were two persons present, besides the bride and 
bridegroom elect, who did but indifferent honour to the 
toast. One of these was Dot, too flushed and discomposed 
to adapt herself to any small occurrence of the moment ; the 
other, Bertha, who rose up hurriedly, before the rest, and 
left the table. 

" Good bye ! " said stout John Peerybingle, pulling on his 
dreadnought coat. " I shall be back at the old time. Good 
bye all ! " 

" Good bye, John," returned Caleb. 

He seemed to say it by rote, and to wave his hand in the 



DOT FORGETS THE PIPE. 261 

same unconscious manner; for he stood observing Bertha 
with an anxious wondering face, that never altered its 
expression. 

" Good bye, young shaver ! " said the jolly Carrier, bending 
down to kiss the child ; which Tilly Slowboy, now intent 
upon her knife and fork, had deposited asleep (and strange 
to say, without damage) in a little cot of Bertha's furnishing ; 
" good bye ! Time will come, I suppose, when yoii\\ tuni 
out into the cold, my little friend, and leave your old father 
to enjoy his pipe and his rheumatics in the chimney-corner; 
eh ? Where's Dot ? " 

" I'm here, John ! " she said, starting. 

" Come, come ! " returned the Carrier, clapping his sound- 
ing hands. " Where's the pipe ? " 

" I quite forgot the pipe, John."" 

Forgot the pipe! Was such a wonder ever heard of! 
She ! Forgot the pipe ! 

"I'll I'll fill it directly. It's soon done." 

But it was not so soon done, either. It lay in the usual 
place the Carrier's dreadnought pocket with the little 
pouch, her own work, from which she was used to fill it ; 
but her hand shook so, that she entangled it (and yet her 
hand was small enough to have come out easily, I am sure), 
and bungled terribly. The filling of the pipe and lighting 
it, those little offices in which I have commended her dis- 
cretion, were vilely done, from first to last. During the 
whole process, Tackleton stood looking on maliciously with 
the half-closed eye ; which, whenever it met hers or caught 
it, for it can hardly be said to have ever met another eye ; 
rather being a kind of trap to snatch it 'Up augmented her 
confusion in a most remarkable degree. 

" Why, what a clumsy Dot you are, this afternoon ! " 
said John. "I could have done it better myself, I verily 
believe ! " 

With these good-natured words, he strode away, and 
presently was heard, in company with Boxer, and the old 



262 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

horse, and the cart, making lively music down the road. 
What time the dreamy Caleb still stood, watching his blind 
daughter, with the same expression on his face. 

" Bertha !" said Caleb, softly. "What has happened? 
How changed you are, my darling, in a few hours since 
this morning. You silent and dull all day ! What is it ? 
Tell me ! " 

"Oh father, father! 1 ' cried the Blind Girl, bursting into 
tears. " Oh my hard, hard fate ! " 

Caleb drew his hand across his eyes before he. answered her. 

"But think how cheerful and how happy you have been, 
Bertha ! How good, and how much loved, by many people." 

" That strikes me to the heart, dear father ! Always so 
mindful of me ! Always so kind to me ! " 

Caleb was very much perplexed to understand her. 

"To be to be blind, Bertha, my poor dear, 1 ' he faltered, 
" is a great affliction ; but " 

"I have never felt it!" cried the Blind Girl. "I have 
never felt it, in its fulness. Never! I have sometimes 
wished that I could see you, or could see him only once, 
dear father, only for one little minute that I might know 
what it is I treasure up, 11 she laid her hands upon her breast, 
" and hold here ! That I might be sure and have it right ! 
And sometimes (but then I was a child) I have wept in my 
prayers at night, to think that when your images ascended 
from my heart to Heaven, they might not be the true re- 
semblance of yourselves. But I have never had these feelings 
long. They have passed away and left me tranquil and 
contented." 

" And they will again, 11 said Caleb. 

" But, father ! Oh my good, gentle father, bear with me, 
if I am wicked!" said the Blind Girl. "This is not the 
sorrow that so weighs me down ! " 

Her father could not choose but let his moist eyes over- 
flow ; she was so earnest and pathetic, but he did not under- 
stand her, yet. 



BERTHA'S SORROW. 263 

" Bring her to me, 11 said Bertha. " I cannot hold it closed 
and shut within myself. Bring her to me, father ! " 

She knew he hesitated, and said, "May. Bring May!" 

May heard the mention of her name, and coming quietly 
towards her, touched her on the arm. The Blind Girl turned 
immediately, and held her by both hands. 

" Look into my face, Dear heart, Sweet heart ! " said 
Bertha. "Read it with your beautiful eyes, and tell me if 
the truth is written on it." 

" Dear Bertha, Yes ! " 

The Blind Girl still, upturning the blank sightless face, 
down which the tears were coursing fast, addressed her in 
these words : 

"There is not, in my soul, a wish or thought that is not 
for your good, bright May ! There is not, in my soul, a 
grateful recollection stronger than the deep remembrance 
which is stored there, of the many many times when, in the 
full pride of sight and beauty, you have had consideration 
for Blind Bertha, even when we two were children, or when 
Bertha was as much a child as ever blindness can be ! Every 
blessing on your head ! Light upon your happy course ! 
Not the less, my dear May ; " and she drew towards her, in 
a closer grasp ; " not the less, my bird, because, to-day, the 
knowledge that you are to be His wife has wrung my heart 
almost to breaking ! Father, May, Mary ! oh forgive me 
that it is so, for the sake of all he has done to relieve the 
weariness of my dark life : and for the sake of the belief you 
have in me, when I call Heaven to witness that I could not 
wish him married to a wife more worthy of his goodness ! " 

While speaking, she had released May Fielding's hands, 
and clasped her garments in an attitude of mingled supplica- 
tion and love. Sinking lower and lower down, as she pro- 
ceeded in her strange confession, she dropped at last at the 
feet of her friend, and hid her blind face in the folds of her 
dress. 

" Great Power ! "* exclaimed her father, smitten at one blow 



264 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

with the truth, "have I deceived her from her cradle, but to 
break her heart at last ! " 

It was well for all of them that Dot, that beaming, useful, 
busy little Dot for such she was, whatever faults she had, 
and however you may learn to hate her, in good time it was 
well for all of them, I say, that she was there : or where this 
would have ended, it were hard to tell. But Dot, recovering 
her self-possession, interposed, before May could reply, or 
Caleb say another word. 

" Come, come, dear Bertha ! come away with me ! Give 
her your arm, May. So ! How composed she is, you see, 
already j and how good it is of her to mind us," said the 
cheery little woman, kissing her upon the forehead. " Come 
away, dear Bertha. Come ! and here's her good father will 
come with her ; won't you, Caleb ? To be sure ! " 

Well, well ! she was a noble little Dot in such things, and 
it must have been an obdurate nature that could have with- 
stood her influence. When she had got poor Caleb and his 
Bertha away, that they might comfort and console each other, 
as she knew they only could, she presently came bouncing 
back, the saying is, as fresh as any daisy ; / say fresher to 
mount guard over that bridling little piece of consequence in 
the cap and gloves, and prevent the dear old creature from 
making discoveries. 

" So bring me the precious Baby, Tilly," said she, drawing 
a chair to the fire; "and while I have it in my lap, here's 
Mrs. Fielding, Tilly, will tell me all about the management 
of Babies, and put me right in twenty points where I'm as 
wrong as can be. Won't you, Mi's. Fielding ? " 

Not even the Welsh Giant, who, according to the popular 
expression, was so "slow" as to perform a fatal surgical 
operation upon himself, in emulation of a juggling-trick 
achieved by his arch-enemy at breakfast-time ; ' not even he 
fell half so readily into the snare prepared for him, as the 
old lady did into this artful pitfall. The fact of Tackleton 
having walked out ; and furthermore, of two or three people 



MRS. FIELDING'S LECTURE. 



265 



j.; 



having been talking together at a distance, for two minutes, 
leaving her to her own resources ; was quite enough to have 
put her on her dignity, and the bewailment of that mys- 
terious convulsion in the Indigo trade, for four-and-twenty 
hours. But this becoming deference to her experience, on the 
part of the young mother, was so irre- 
sistible, that after a short affectation f^- 
of humility, she began to 
enlighten her with the best 
grace in the world ; and 
sitting bolt upright be- 
fore the wicked Dot, she 
did, in half an hour, 
deliver more in- 
fallible domestic 
recipes and pre- 
cepts, than would 
(if acted on) have 
utterly destroyed 
and done up that 
Young Peery- 
bingle, though 
he had been an 
Infant Samson. 

To change the 
theme, Dot did a 
little needlework 
she carried the 
contents of a 
whole workbox 
in her pocket; however she contrived it, I don't know then 
did a little nursing; then a little more needlework; then 
had a little whispering chat with May, while the old lady- 
dozed ; and so in little bits of bustle, which was quite her 
manner always, found it a very short afternoon. Then, as 
it grew dark, and as it was a solemn part of this Institution 




266 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

of the Pic-Nic that she should perform all Bertha's house- 
hold tasks, she trimmed the fire, and swept the hearth, and 
set the tea-board out, and drew the curtain, and lighted a 
candle. Then she played an air or two on a rude kind of 
harp, which Caleb had contrived for Bertha, and played them 
very well; for Nature had made her delicate little ear as 
choice a one for music as it would have been for jewels, if 
she had had any to wear. By this time it was the estab- 
lished hour for having tea; and Tackleton came back again, 
to share the meal, and spend the evening. 

Caleb and Bertha had returned some time before, and Caleb 
had sat down to his afternoon's work. But he couldn't settle 
to it, poor fellow, being anxious and remorseful for his 
daughter. It was touching to see him sitting idle on his 
working-stool, regarding her so wistfully, and always saying 
in his face, " Have I deceived her from her cradle, but to 
break her heart ! " 

When it was night, and tea was done, and Dot had nothing 
more to do in washing up the cups and saucers ; in a word 
for I must come to it, and there is no use in putting it 
off when the time drew nigh for expecting the Carrier's 
return in every sound of distant wheels, her manner changed 
again, her colour came and went, and she was very restless. 
Not as good wives are, when listening for their husbands. 
No, no, no. It was another sort of restlessness from that. 

Wheels heard. A horse's feet. The barking of a dog. 
The gradual approach of all the sounds. The scratching paw 
of Boxer at the door ! 

" Whose step is that ! " cried Bertha, starting up. 

" Whose step ? " returned the Carrier, standing in the portal, 
with his brown face ruddy as a winter berry from the keen 
night air. Why, mine." 

" The other step," said Bertha. " The man's tread behind 
you ! " 

" She is not to be deceived," observed the Carrier, laughing. 
" Come along, sir. You'll be welcome, never fear ! " 



THE CARRIER IN HIGH SPIRITS. 267 

He spoke in a loud tone; and as he spoke, the deaf old 
gentleman entered. 

" He's not so much a stranger, that you haven't seen him 
once, Caleb," said the Carrier. " You'll give him house-room 
till we go ? " 

" Oh surely, John, and take it as an honour." 

" He's the best company on earth, to talk secrets in," said 
John. " I have reasonable good lungs, but he tries 'em, I 
can tell you. Sit down, sir. All friends here, and glad to 
see you ! " 

When he had imparted this assurance, in a voice that 
amply corroborated what he had said about his lungs, he 
added in his natural tone, " A chair in the chimney-corner, 
and leave to sit quite silent and look pleasantly about him, 
is all he cares for. He's easily pleased." 

Bertha had been listening intently. She called Caleb to 
her side, when he had set the chair, and asked him, in a low 
voice, to describe their visitor. When he had done so (truly 
now; with scrupulous fidelity), she moved, for the first time 
since he had come in, and sighed, and seemed to have no 
further interest concerning him. 

The Carrier was in high spirits, good fellow that he was, 
and fonder of his little wife than ever. 

" A clumsy Dot she was, this afternoon ! " he said, encircling 
her with his rough arm, as she stood, removed from the rest ; 
" and yet I like her somehow. See yonder, Dot ! " 

He pointed to the old man. She looked down. I think 
she trembled. 

" He's ha ha ha ! he's full of admiration for you ! " said 
the Carrier. "Talked of nothing else y the whole way here. 
Why, he's a brave old boy. I like him for it ! " 

" I wish he had had a better subject, John," she said, with 
an uneasy glance about the room. At Tackleton especially. 

"A better subject!" cried the jovial John. "There's no 
such thing. Come, off with the great-coat, off with the thick 
shawl, oft' with the heavy wrappers ! and a cosy half-hour by 



268 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

the fire ! My humble service, Mistress. A game at cribbage, 
you and I ? That's hearty. The cards and board, Dot. And 
a glass of beer here, if there's any left, small wife ! " 

His challenge was addressed to the old lady, who accepting 
it with gracious readiness, they were soon engaged upon the 
game. At first, the Carrier looked about him sometimes, 
with a smile, or now and then called Dot to peep over his 
shoulder at his hand, and advise him on some knotty point. 
But his adversary being a rigid disciplinarian, and subject to 
an occasional weakness in respect of pegging more than she 
was entitled to, required such vigilance on his part, as left 
him neither eyes nor ears to spare. Thus, his whole attention 
gradually became absorbed upon the cards ; and he thought 
of nothing else, until a hand upon his shoulder restored him 
to a consciousness of Tackleton. 

"I am sorry to disturb you but a word, directly." 
"I'm going to deal," returned the Carrier. "It's a crisis." 
" It is," said Tackleton. " Come here, man ! " 
There was that in his pale face which made the other rise 
immediately, and ask him, in a hurry, what the matter was. 

" Hush ! John Peerybingle," said Tackleton. " I am sorry 
for this. I am indeed. I have been afraid of it. I have 
suspected it from the first." 

" What is it ? " asked the Carrier, with a frightened aspect. 
" Hush ! I'll show you, if you'll come with me." 
The Carrier accompanied him, without another word. They 
went across a yard, where the stars were shining, and by a little 
side-door, into Tackleton's own counting-house, where there 
was a glass window, commanding the ware-room, which was 
closed for the night. There was no light in the counting- 
house itself, but there were lamps in the long narrow ware- 
room ; and consequently the window was bright. 

"A moment!" said Tackleton. "Can you bear to look 
through that window, do you think ? " 
"Why not?" returned the Carrier. 
"A moment more," said Tackleton. "Don't commit any 



TACKLETON SHOWS THE CARRIER A SIGHT. 269 

violence. It's of no use. It's dangerous too. You're a 
strong-made man; and you might do murder before you 
know it."' 

The Carrier looked him in the face, and recoiled a step as 
if he had been struck. In one stride he was at the window, 
and he saw 

Oh Shadow on the Hearth! Oh truthful Cricket! Oh 
perfidious Wife ! 

He saw her, with the old man old no longer, but erect 
and gallant bearing in his hand the false white hair that 
had won his way into their desolate and miserable home. 
He saw her listening to him, as he bent his head to whisper 
in her ear; and suffering him to clasp her round the waist, 
as they moved slowly down the dim wooden gallery towards 
the door by which they had entered it. He saw them stop, 
and saw her turn to have the face, the face he loved so, so 
presented to his view ! and saw her, with her own hands, 
adjust the lie upon his head, laughing, as she did it, at his 
unsuspicious nature ! 

He clenched his strong right hand at first, as if it would 
have beaten down a lion. But opening it immediately again, 
he spread it out before the eyes of Tackleton (for he was 
tender of her, even then), and so, as they passed out, fell 
down upon a desk, and was as weak as any infant. 

He was wrapped up to the chin, and busy with his horse 
and parcels, when she came into the room, prepared for going 
home. 

"Now, John, dear! Good night, May! Good night, 
Bertha ! " 

Could she kiss them ? Could she be blithe and cheerful 
in her parting? Could she venture to reveal her face to 
them without a blush ? Yes. Tackleton observed her closely, 
and she did all this. 

Tilly was hushing the Baby, and she crossed and re-crossed 
Tackleton, a dozen times, repeating drowsily : 

"Did the knowledge that it was to be its wifes, then, wring 



870 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

its hearts almost to breaking ; and did its fathers deceive it 
from its cradles but to break its hearts at last ! "" 

"Now, Tilly, give me the Baby! Good night, Mr. 
Tackleton. Where's John, for goodness 1 sake ? " 

" He's going to walk beside the horse's head," said Tackle- 
ton ; who helped her to her seat. 

My dear John. Walk ? To-night ? " 

The muffled figure of her husband made a hasty sign in 
the affirmative; and the false stranger and the little nurse 
being in their places, the old horse moved off. Boxer, the 
unconscious Boxer, running on before, running back, running 
round and round the cart, and barking as triumphantly and 
merrily as ever. 

When Tackleton had gone off likewise, escorting May and 
her mother home, poor Caleb sat down by the fire beside 
his daughter; anxious and remorseful at the core; and still 
saying in his wistful contemplation of her, "Have I deceived 
her from her cradle, but to break her heart at last ! " 

The toys that had been set in motion for the Baby, had 
all stopped, and run down, long ago. In the faint light and 
silence, the imperturbably calm dolls, the agitated rocking- 
horses Avith distended eyes and nostrils, the old gentlemen at 
the street-doors, standing half doubled up upon their failing 
knees and ankles, the wry-faced nut-crackers, the very Beasts 
upon their way into the Ark, in twos, like a Boarding School 
out walking, might have been imagined to be stricken motion- 
less with fantastic wonder, at Dot being false, or Tackleton 
beloved, under any combination of circumstances. 





HE Dutch clock in the 
comer struck Ten, when 
the Carrier sat down by 
his fireside. So troubled 
and grief-worn, that he 
seemed to scare the Cuckoo, v 
who, having cut his 
ten melodious . 

ments as short as 
possible, plunged 
back into the 
Moorish Palace 
again, and clap- 
ped his little door 
behind him, as 
if the unwonted 
spectacle were 
too much for his 
feelings. 

If the little 
Haymaker had 
been armed with 
the sharpest of 
scythes, and had cut at every stroke into the Carrier's 
heart, he never could have gashed and wounded it, as Dot 
had done. 

It was a heart so full of love for her ; so bound up and 




272 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

held together by innumerable threads of winning remem- 
brance, spun from the daily working of her many qualities 
of endearment; it was a heart in which she had enshrined 
herself so gently and so closely ; a heart so single and so 
earnest in its Truth, so strong in right, so weak in wrong ; 
that it could cherish neither passion nor revenge at first, and 
had only room to hold the broken image of its Idol. 

But, slowly, slowly, as the Carrier sat brooding on his 
hearth, now cold and dark, other and fiercer thoughts began 
to rise within him, as an angry wind comes rising in the 
night. The Stranger was beneath his outraged roof. Three 
steps would take him to his chamber-door. One blow would 
beat it in. " You might do murder before you know it," 
Tackleton had said. How could it be murder, if he gave the 
villain time to grapple with him hand to hand ! He was 
the younger man. 

It was an ill-timed thought, bad for the dark mood of his 
mind. It was an angry thought, goading him to some 
avenging act, that should change the cheerful house into 
a haunted place which lonely travellers would dread to pass 
by night ; and where the timid would see shadows struggling 
in the ruined windows when the moon was dim, and hear 
wild noises in the stormy weather. 

He was the younger man ! Yes, yes ; some lover who had 
won the heart that he had never touched. Some lover of 
her early choice, of whom she had thought and dreamed, for 
whom she had pined and pined, when he had fancied her so 
happy by his side. O agony to think of it ! 

She had been above-stairs with the Baby, getting it to 
bed. As he sat brooding on the hearth, she came close 
beside him, without his knowledge in the turning of the 
rack of his great misery, he lost all other sounds and put 
her little stool at his feet. He only knew it, when he felt 
her hand upon his own, and saw her looking up into his face. 

With wonder? No. It was his first impression, and he 
was fain to look at her again, to set it right. No, not with 



TERRIBLE THOUGHTS. 273 

wonder. With an eager and inquiring look ; but not with 
wonder. At first it was alarmed and serious ; then, it 
changed into a strange, wild, dreadful smile of recognition 
of his thoughts ; then, there was nothing but her clasped 
hands on her brow, and her bent head, and falling hair. 

Though the power of Omnipotence had been his to wield 
at that moment, he had too much of its diviner property of 
Mercy in his breast, to have turned one feather's weight of 
it against her. But he could not bear to see her crouching 
down upon the little seat where he had often looked on her, 
with love and pride, so innocent and gay ; and, when she rose 
and left him, sobbing as she went, he felt it a relief to have 
the vacant place beside him rather than her so long-cherished 
presence. This in itself was anguish keener than all, remind- 
ing him how desolate he was become, and how the great 
bond of his life was rent asunder. 

The more he felt this, and the more he knew he could 
have better borne to see her lying prematurely dead before 
him with their little child upon her breast, the higher and 
the stronger rose his wrath against his enemy. He looked 
about him for a weapon. 

There was a gun, hanging on the Avail. He took it down, 
and moved a pace or two towards the door of the perfidious 
Stranger's room. He knew the gun was loaded. Some 
shadowy idea that it was just to shoot this man like a wild 
beast, seized him, and dilated in his mind until it grew 
into a monstrous demon in complete possession of him, cast- 
ing out all milder thoughts and setting up its undivided 
empire. 

That phrase is wrong. Not casting out his milder thoughts, 
but artfully transforming them. Changing them into 
scourges to drive him on. Turning water into blood, love 
into hate, gentleness into blind ferocity. Her image, sorrow- 
ing, humbled, but still pleading to his tenderness and mercy 
with resistless power, never left his mind ; but, staying there, 
it urged him to the door ; raised the weapon to his shoulder ; 



274 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

fitted and nerved his finger to the trigger ; and cried " Kill 
him ! In his bed ! " 

He reversed the gun to beat the stock upon the door; he 
already held it lifted in the air ; some indistinct design was 
in his thoughts of calling out to him to fly, for God's sake, 
by the window 

When, suddenly, the struggling fire illumined the whole 
chimney with a glow of light ; and the Cricket on the Hearth 
began to Chirp ! 

No sound he could have heard, no human voice, not even 
hers, could so have moved and softened him. The artless 
words in which she had told him of her love for this same 
Cricket, were once more freshly spoken ; her trembling, 
earnest manner at the moment, was again before him ; her 
pleasant voice O what a voice it was, for making household 
music at the fireside of an honest man ! thrilled through 
and through his better nature, and awoke it into life and 
action. 

He recoiled from the door, like a man walking in his sleep, 
awakened from a frightful dream ; and put the gun aside. 
Clasping his hands before his face, he then sat down again 
beside the fire, and found relief in tears. 

The Cricket on the Hearth came out into the room, and 
stood in Fairy shape before him. 

"'I love it, 1 " said the Fairy Voice, repeating what he well 
remembered, " for the many times I have heard it, and the 
many thoughts its harmless music has given me.' 1 " 

" She said so ! " cried the Carrier. " True ! " 

" ' This has been a happy home, John ; and I love the 
Cricket for its sake ! ' " 

"It has been, Heaven knows," returned the Carrier. "She 
made it happy, always, until now." 

"So gracefully sweet-tempered; so domestic, joyful, busy, 
and light-hearted ! " said the Voice. 

" Otherwise I never could have loved her as I did, 11 returned 
the Carrier. 



JOHN'S REVERIE. 275 

The Voice, correcting him, said " do." 

The Carrier repeated " as I did. 11 But not firmly. His 
faltering tongue resisted his control, and would speak in its 
own way, for itself and him. 

The Figure, in an attitude of invocation, raised its hand 
and said : 

"Upon your own hearth " 

"The hearth she has blighted," interposed the Carrier. 




" The hearth she has how often ! blessed and brightened," 
said the Cricket ; " the hearth which, but for her, were only 
a few stones and bricks and rusty bars, but which has been, 
through her, the Altar of your Home ; on which you have 
nightly sacrificed some petty passion, selfishness, or care, and 
offered up the homage of a tranquil mind, a trusting nature, 
and an overflowing heart ; so that the smoke from this poor 
chimney has gone upward with a better fragrance than the 



276 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

richest incense that is burnt before the richest shrines in all 
the gaudy temples of this world ! Upon your own hearth ; 
in its quiet sanctuary; surrounded by its gentle influences 
and associations; hear her! Hear me! Hear everything 
that speaks the language of your hearth and home ! " 

"And pleads for her?" inquired the Carrier. 

"All things that speak the language of your hearth and 
home, must plead for her! 11 returned the Cricket. "For 
they speak the truth." 

And while the Carrier, with his head upon his hands, con- 
tinued to sit meditating in his chair, the Presence stood 
beside him, suggesting his reflections by its power, and pre- 
senting them before him, as in a glass or picture. It was 
not a solitary Presence. From the hearthstone, from the 
chimney, from the clock, the pipe, the kettle, and the cradle ; 
from the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and the stairs ; from 
the cart without, and the cupboard within, and the house- 
hold implements ; from every thing and every place with 
which she had ever been familiar, and with which she had 
ever entwined one recollection of herself in her unhappy 
husband's mind ; Fairies came trooping forth. Not to stand 
beside him as the Cricket did, but to busy and bestir them- 
selves. To do all honour to her image. To pull him by 
the skirts, and point to it when it appeared. To cluster 
round it, and embrace it, and strew flowers for it to tread on. 
To try to crown its fair head with their tiny hands. To show 
that they were fond of it and loved it ; and that there was 
not one ugly, wicked, or accusatory creature to claim know- 
ledge of it none but their playful and approving selves. 

His thoughts were constant to her image. It was always 
there. 

She sat plying her needle, before the fire, and singing to 
herself. Such a blithe, thriving, steady little Dot! The 
fairy figures turned upon him all at once, by one consent, 
with one prodigious concentrated stare, and seemed to say, 
" Is this the light wife you are mourning for ! " 



THE HOUSEHOLD SPIRITS. 277 

There were sounds of gaiety outside, musical instruments, 
and noisy tongues, and laughter. A crowd of young merry- 
makers came pouring in, among whom were May Fielding 
and a score of pretty girls. Dot was the fairest of them all ; 
as young as any of them too. They came to summon her 
to join their party. It was a dance. If ever little foot were 
made for dancing, hers was, surely. But she laughed, and 
shook her head, and pointed to her cookery on the fire, 
and her table ready spread : with an exulting defiance that 
rendered her more charming than she was before. And so 
she merrily dismissed them, nodding to her would-be partners, 
one by one, as they passed, but with a comical indifference, 
enough to make them go and drown themselves immediately 
if they were her admirers and they must have been so, more 
or less ; they couldn't help it. And yet indifference was not 
her character. O no ! For presently, there came a certain 
Carrier to the door; and bless her what a welcome she 
bestowed upon him ! 

Again the staring figures turned upon him all at once, and 
seemed to say, " Is this the wife who has forsaken you ! " 

A shadow fell upon the mirror or the picture: call it 
what you will. A great shadow of the Stranger, as he first 
stood underneath their roof; covering its surface, and blotting 
out all other objects. But the nimble Fairies worked like 
bees to clear it off again. And Dot again was there. Still 
bright and beautiful. 

Rocking her little Baby in its cradle, singing to it softly, 
and resting her head upon a shoulder which had its counter- 
part in the musing figure by which the Fairy Cricket stood. 

The night I mean the real night : not going by Fairy 
clocks was wearing now ; and in this stage of the Carrier's 
thoughts, the moon burst out, and shone brightly in the 
sky. Perhaps some calm and quiet light had risen also, in 
his mind; and he could think more soberly of what had 
happened. 

Although the shadow of the Stranger fell at interval 



278 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

the glass always distinct, and big, and thoroughly defined 
it never fell so darkly as at first. Whenever it appeared, the 
Fairies uttered a general cry of consternation, and plied their 
little arms and legs, with inconceivable activity, to rub it 
out. And whenever they got at Dot again, and showed her 
to him once more, bright and beautiful, they cheered in the 
most inspiring manner. 

They never showed her, otherwise than beautiful and bright, 
for they were Household Spirits to whom falsehood is annihila- 
tion ; and being so, what Dot was there for them, but the 
one active, beaming, pleasant little creature who had been the 
light and sun of the Carrier's Home ! 

The Fairies were prodigiously excited when they showed her, 
with the Baby, gossiping among a knot of sage old matrons, 
and affecting to be wondrous old and matronly herself, and 
leaning in a staid, demure old way upon her husband's arm, 
attempting she ! such a bud of a little woman to convey the 
idea of having abjured the vanities of the world in genera], 
and of being the sort of person to whom it was no novelty 
at all to be a mother; yet in the same breath, they showed 
her, laughing at the Carrier for being awkward, and pulling 
up his shirt-collar to make him smart, and mincing merrily 
about that very room to teach him how to dance ! 

They turned, and stared immensely at him when they 
showed her with the Blind Girl; for, though she carried 
cheerfulness and animation with her wheresoever she went, she 
bore those influences into Caleb Plummets home, heaped up 
and running over. The Blind Girl's love for her, and trust 
in her, and gratitude to her; her own good busy way of 
setting Bertha's thanks aside; her dexterous little arts for 
filling up each moment of the visit in doing something 
useful to the house, and really working hard while feigning 
to make holiday; her bountiful provision of those standing 
delicacies, the Veal and Ham-Pie and the bottles of Beer ; her 
radiant little face arriving at the door, and taking leave ; the 
wonderful expression in her whole self, from her neat foot to 



TACKLETOVS WEDDING-DAY. 279 

the crown of her head, of being a part of the establishment 
a something necessary to it, which it couldn't be without; 
all this the Fairies revelled in, and loved her for. And once 
again they looked upon him all at once, appealingly, and 
seemed to say, while some among them nestled in her dress 
and fondled her, "Is this the wife who has betrayed your 
confidence ! " 

More than once, or twice, or thrice, in the long thought- 
ful night, they showed her to him sitting on her favourite 
seat, with her bent head, her hands clasped on her brow, her 
falling hair. As he had seen her last. And when they found 
her thus, they neither turned nor looked upon him, but 
gathered close round her, and comforted and kissed her, and 
pressed on one another to show sympathy and kindness to 
her, and forgot him altogether. 

Thus the night passed. The moon went down ; the stars 
grew pale ; the cold day broke ; the sun rose. The Carrier 
still sat, musing, in the chimney corner. He had sat there, 
with his head upon his hands, all night. All night the 
faithful Cricket had been Chirp, Chirp, Chirping on the 
Hearth. All night he had listened to its voice. All night 
the household Fairies had been busy with him. All night 
she had been amiable and blameless in the glass, except 
when that one shadow fell upon it. 

He rose up when it was broad day, and washed and dressed 
himself. He couldn't go about his customary cheerful 
avocations he wanted spirit for them but it mattered the 
less, that it was Tackleton's wedding-day, and he had arranged 
to make his rounds by proxy. He thought to have gone 
merrily to church with Dot. But such plans were at an end. 
It was their own wedding-day too. Ah! how little he had 
looked for such a close to such a year ! 

The Carrier had expected that Tackleton would pay him 
an early visit ; and he was right. He had not walked to 
and fro before his own door, many minutes, when he saw 
the Toy-merchant coming in his chaise along the road. As 



280 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

the chaise drew nearer, he perceived that Tackleton was 
dressed out sprucely for his marriage, and that he had 
decorated his horse's head with flowers and favours. 

The horse looked much more like a bridegroom than 
Tackleton, whose half-closed eye was more disagreeably ex- 
pressive than ever. But the Carrier took little heed of this, 
His thoughts had other occupation. 

" John Peerybingle ! " said Tackleton, with an air of con- 
dolence. " My good fellow, how do you find yourself this 
morning ? " 

" I have had but a poor night, Master Tackleton," returned 
the Carrier, shaking his head : " for I have been a good deal 
disturbed in my mind. But it's over now! Can you spare 
me half an hour or so, for some private talk ? " 

"I came on purpose, 11 returned Tackleton, alighting. 
"Never mind the horse. He'll stand quiet enough, with the 
reins over this post, if you'll give him a mouthful of hay." 

The Carrier having brought it from his stable, and set it 
before him, they turned into the house. 

" You are not married before noon," he said, " I think ? " 

"No, 11 answered Tackleton. "Plenty of time. Plenty of 
time. 11 

When they entered the kitchen, Tilly Slowboy was rapping 
at the Stranger's door ; which was only removed from it by a 
few steps. One of her very red eyes (for Tilly had been crying 
all night long, because her mistress cried) was at the keyhole ; 
and she was knocking very loud ; and seemed frightened. 

"If you please I can't make nobody hear," said Tilly, 
looking round. "I hope nobody an't gone and been and 
died if you please ! " 

This philanthropic wish, Miss Slowboy emphasised with 
various new raps and kicks at the door; which led to no 
result whatever. 

*' Shall I go ? " said Tackleton. It's curious." 

The Carrier, who had turned his face from the door, signed 
to him to go if he would. 



DISAPPEARANCE OF THE STRANGER. 281 

So Tackleton went to Tilly Slowboy's relief; and he too 
kicked and knocked ; and he too failed to get the least reply. 
But he thought of trying the handle of the door ; and as it 
opened easily, he peeped in, looked in, went in, and soon came 
running out again. 

" John Peerybingle," said Tackleton, in his ear. " I hope 
there has been nothing nothing rash in the night? 1 ' 

The Carrier turned upon him quickly. 

" Because he's gone ! " said Tackleton ; " and the window's 
open. I don't see any marks to be sure it's almost on a 
level with the garden : but I was afraid there might have 
been some some scuffle. Eh ? '" 

He nearly shut up the expressive eye altogether ; he looked 
at him so hard. And he gave his eye, and his face, and his 
whole person, a sharp twist. As if he would have screwed 
the truth out of him. 

"Make yourself easy," said the Carrier. "He went into 
that room last night, without harm in word or deed from me, 
and no one has entered it since. He is away of his own free 
will. I'd go out gladly at that door, and beg my bread from 
house to house, for life, if I could so change the past that 
he had never come. But he has come and gone. And I 
have done with him ! " 

Oh! Well, I think he has got off pretty easy," said 
Tackleton, taking a chair. 

The sneer was lost upon the Carrier, who sat down too, 
and shaded his face with his hand, for some little time, before 
proceeding. 

" You snowed me last night," he said at length, " my wife , 
my wife that I love; secretly 

"And tenderly," insinuated Tackleton. 

"Conniving at that man's disguise, and giving him oppor- 
tunities of meeting her alone. I think there's no sight I 
wouldn't have rather seen than that. I think there's no man 
in the world I wouldn't have rather had to show it me." 

" I confess to having had my suspicions always," said 



282 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

Tackleton. "And that has made me objectionable here, I 
know." 

"But as you did show it me," pursued the Carrier, not 
minding him; "and as you saw her, my wife, my wife that 
I love" his voice, and eye, and hand, grew steadier and 
firmer as he repeated these words : evidently in pursuance of 
a steadfast purpose " as you saw her at this disadvantage, it 
is right and just that you should also see with my eyes, and 
look into my breast, and know what my mind is, upon the 
subject. For it's settled," said the Carrier, regarding him 
attentively. " And nothing can shake it now." 

Tackleton muttered a few general words of assent, about 
its being necessary to vindicate something or other; but he 
was overawed by the manner of his companion. Plain and 
unpolished as it was. it had a something dignified and noble 
in it, which nothing but the soul of generous honour dwelling 
in the man could have imparted. 

" I am a plain, rough man, 11 pursued the Carrier, " with 
very little to recommend me. I am not a clever man, as you 
very well know. I am not a young man. I loved my little 
Dot, because I had seen her grow up, from a child, in her 
father's house ; because I knew how precious she was ; because 
she had been my life, for years and years. There's many 
men I can't compare with, who never could have loved my 
little Dot like me, I think ! " 

He paused, and softly beat the ground a short time with 
his foot, before resuming. 

"I often thought that though I wasn't good enough for 
her, I should make her a kind husband, and perhaps know 
her value better than another; and in /this way I reconciled 
it to myself, and came to think it might be possible that we 
should be married. And in the end it came about, and we 
were married. 1 * 

"Hah!" said Tackleton, with a significant shake of the 
head. 

"I had studied myself; I had had experience of myself; 



THE CARRIER'S RESOLVE. 283 

I knew how much I loved her, and how happy I should 
be," pursued the Carrier. " But I had not I feel it now 
sufficiently considered her." 

" To be sure," said Tackleton. " Giddiness, frivolity, fickle- 
ness, love of admiration ! Not considered ! All left out of 
sight ! Hah ! " 

" You had best not interrupt me," said the Carrier, with 
some sternness, " till you understand me ; and you're wide of 
doing so. If, yesterday, Yd have struck that man down at a 
blow, who dared to breathe a word against her, to-day I'd 
set my foot upon his face, if he was my brother ! " 

The Toy-merchant gazed at him in astonishment. He went 
on in a softer tone : 

"Did I consider," said the Carrier, "that I took her at 
her age, and with her beauty from her young companions, 
and the many scenes of which she was the ornament ; in which 
she was the brightest little star that ever shone, to shut her 
up from day to day in my dull house, and keep my tedious 
company ? Did I consider how little suited I was to her 
sprightly humour, and how wearisome a plodding man like 
me must be, to one of her quick spirit ? Did I consider that 
it was no merit in me, or claim in me, that I loved her, 
when everybody must, who knew her ? Never. I took 
advantage of her hopeful nature and her cheerful disposition ; 
and I married her. I wish I never had ! For her sake ; not 
for mine ! " 

The Toy-merchant gazed at him, without winking. Even 
the half-shut eye was open now. 

" Heaven bless her ! " said the Carrier, " for the cheerful 
constancy with which she tried to keep the knowledge of this 
from me ! And Heaven help me, that, in my slow mind, I 
have not found it out before! Poor child! Poor Dot! / 
not to find it out, who have seen her eyes fill with tears, 
when such a marriage as our own was spoken of ! I, who 
have seen the secret trembling on her lips a hundred times, 
and never suspected it till last night ! Poor girl ! That I 



284 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

could ever hope she would be fond of me! That I could 
ever believe she was ! " 

" She made a show of it," said Tackleton. " She made such 
a show of it, that to tell you the truth it was the origin of 
my misgivings." 

And here he asserted the superiority of May Fielding, who 
certainly made no sort of show of being fond of him. 

"She has tried," said the poor Carrier, with greater 
emotion than he had exhibited yet; "I only now begin to 
know how hard she has tried, to be my dutiful and zealous 
wife. How good she has been; how much she has done; 
how brave and strong a heart she has; let the happiness I 
have known under this roof bear witness ! It will be some 
help and comfort to me, when I am here alone." 

"Here alone?" said Tackleton. "Oh! Then you do 
mean to take some notice of this ? " 

" I mean," returned the Carrier, " to do her the greatest 
kindness, and make her the best reparation, in my power. I 
can release her from the daily pain of an unequal marriage, 
and the struggle to conceal it. She shall be as free as I can 
render her." 

" Make her reparation ! " exclaimed Tackleton, twisting and 
turning his great ears with his hands. "There must be 
something wrong here. You didn't say that, of course." 

The Carrier set his grip upon the collar of the Toy- 
merchant, and shook him like a reed. 

" Listen to me ! " he said. " And take care that you hear 
me right. Listen to me. Do I speak plainly ? " 

" Very plainly indeed," answered Tackleton. 

" As if I meant it ? " 

" Very much as if you meant it." 

"I sat upon that hearth, last night, all night," exclaimed 
the Carrier. "On the spot where she has often sat beside 
me, with her sweet face looking into mine. I called up her 
whole life, day by day. I had her dear self, in its every 
passage, in review before me. And upon my soul she is 



DOT HAS OVERHEARD THE CARRIER. 285 

innocent, if there is One to judge the innocent and 
guilty !" 

Staunch Cricket on the Hearth ! Loyal household Fairies ! 

"Passion and distrust have left me!" said the Carrier; 
" and nothing but my grief remains. In an unhappy moment 
some old lover, better suited to her tastes and years than I ; 
forsaken, perhaps, for me, against her will ; returned. In an 
unhappy moment, taken by surprise, and wanting time to 
think of what she did, she made herself a party to his 
treachery, by concealing it. Last night she saw him, in the 
interview we witnessed. It was wrong. But otherwise than 
this she is innocent if there is truth on earth ! " 

" If that is your opinion " Tackleton began. 

"So, let her go!" pursued the Carrier. "Go, with my 
blessing for the many happy hours she has given me, and my 
forgiveness for any pang she has caused me. Let her go, 
and have the peace of mind I wish her! She'll never hate 
me. Shell learn to like me better, when Fin not a drag 
upon her, and she wears the chain I have riveted, more 
lightly. This is the day on which I took her, with so little 
thought for her enjoyment, from her home. To-day she 
shall return to it, and I will trouble her no more. Her 
father and mother will be here to-day we had made a little 
plan for keeping it together and they shall take her home. 
I can trust her, there, or anywhere. She leaves me without 
blame, and she will live so I am sure. If I should die I 
may perhaps while she is still young; I have lost some 
courage in a few hours she'll find that I remembered her, 
and loved her to the last ! This is the end of what you 
showed me. Now, it's over ! " 

"O no, John, not over. Do not say it's over yet! Not 
quite yet. I have heard your noble words. I could not 
steal away, pretending to be ignorant of what has affected 
me with such deep gratitude. Do not say it's over, 'till the 
clock has struck again ! " 

She had entered shortly after Tackleton, and had remained 



286 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

there. She never looked at Tackleton, but fixed her eyes 
upon her husband. But she kept away from him, setting as 
wide a space as possible between them ; and though she spoke 
with most impassioned earnestness, she went no nearer to him 
even then. How different in this from her old self! 

"No hand can make the clock which will strike again for 
me the hours that are gone," replied the Carrier, with a faint 
smile. " But let it be so, if you will, my dear. It will strike 
soon. It's of little matter what we say. I'd try to please 
you in a harder case than that." 

"Well!" muttered Tackleton. "I must be off, for when 
the clock strikes again, if 11 be necessary for me to be upon 
my way to church. Good morning, John Peerybingle. Fin 
sorry to be deprived of the pleasure of your company. Sorry 
for the loss, and the occasion of it too ! " 

"I have spoken plainly?" said the Carrier, accompanying 
him to the door. 

"Oh quite!" 

" And you'll remember what I have said ? " 

" Why, if you compel me to make the observation," said 
Tackleton, previously taking the precaution of getting into 
his chaise ; " I must say that it was so very unexpected, that 
I'm far from being likely to forget it." 

" The better for us both," returned the Carrier. " Good 
bye. I give you joy ! " 

"^1 wish I could give it to T/OM," said Tackleton. " As I 
can't; thank'ee. Between ourselves, (as I told you before, 
eh?) I don't much think I shall have the less joy in my 
married life, because May hasn't been too officious about me, 
and too demonstrative. Good bye ! Take care of yourself." 

The Carrier stood looking after him until he was smaller 
in the distance than his horse's flowers and favours near at 
hand ; and then, with a deep sigh, went strolling like a rest- 
less, broken man, among some neighbouring elms; unwilling 
to return until the clock was on the eve of striking. 

His little wife, being left alone, sobbed piteously ; but often 



CALEB AND HIS DAUGHTER. 287 

dried her eyes and checked herself, to say how good he was, 
how excellent he was ! and once or twice she laughed ; so 
heartily, triumphantly, and incoherently (still crying all the 
time), that Tilly was quite horrified. 

" Ow if you please don't ! " said Tilly. " It's enough to 
dead and bury the Baby, so it is if you please." 

" Will you bring him sometimes, to see his father, Tilly," 
inquired her mistress, drying her eyes ; " when I can't live 
here, and have gone to my old home ? " 

"Ow if you please don't!" cried Tilly, throwing back her 
head, and bursting out into a howl she looked at the moment 
uncommonly like Boxer. " Ow if you please don't ! Ow, what 
has everybody gone and been and done with everybody, 
making everybody else so wretched ! O w-w-w-w ! " 

The soft-hearted Slowboy trailed off at this juncture, into 
such a deplorable howl, the more tremendous from its long 
suppression, that she must infallibly have awakened the Baby, 
and frightened him into something serious (probably convul- 
sions), if her eyes had not encountered Caleb Plummer, leading 
in his daughter. This spectacle restoring her to a sense of 
the proprieties, she stood for some few moments silent, with 
her mouth wide open ; and then, posting oft* to the bed on 
which the Baby lay asleep, danced in a weird, Saint Vitus 
manner on the floor, and at the same time rummaged with 
her face and head among the bedclothes, apparently deriving 
much relief from those extraordinary operations. 

" Mary ! " said Bertha. " Not at the marriage ! " 

" I told her you would not be there, mum," whispered Caleb. 
" I heard as much last night. But bless you," said the little 
man, taking her tenderly by both hands, " / don't care for 
what they say. / don't believe them. There an't much of 
me, but that little should be torn to pieces sooner than I'd 
trust a word against you ! " 

He put his arms about her and hugged her, as a child 
might have hugged one of his own dolls. 

" Bertha couldn't stay at home this morning,' 11 said Caleb. 



288 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

" She was afraid, I know, to hear the bells ring, and couldn't 
trust herself to be so near them on their wedding-day. So 
we started in good time, and came here. I have been thinking 
of what I have done, 11 said Caleb, after a moment's pause ; " I 
have been blaming myself till I hardly knew what to do or 
where to turn, for the distress of mind I have caused her; 
and Fve come to the conclusion that I'd better, if you'll stay 
with me, mum, the while, tell her the truth. You'll stay 
with me the while?" he inquired, trembling from head to 
foot. " I don't know what effect it may have upon her ; I 
don't know what she'll think of me ; I don't know that she'll 
ever care for her poor father afterwards. But it's best for 
her that she should be undeceived, and I must bear the 
consequences as I deserve ! " 

" Mary," said Bertha, " where is your hand ! Ah ! Here 
it is ; here it is ! " pressing it to her lips, with a smile, and 
drawing it through her arm. " I heard them speaking softly 
among themselves, last night, of some blame against you. 
They were wrong. 11 

The Carrier's Wife was silent. Caleb answered for her. 

" They were wrong," he said. 

" I knew it ! " cried Bertha, proudly. " I told them so. I 
scorned to hear a word ! Blame her with justice ! " she 
pressed the hand between her own, and the soft cheek 
against her face. " No ! I am not so blind as that." 

Her father went on one side of her, while Dot remained 
upon the other : holding her hand. 

" I know you all," said Bertha, " better than you think. 
But none so well as her. Not even you, father. There is 
nothing half so real and so true about me, as she is. If I 
could be restored to sight this instant, and not a word were 
spoken, I could choose her from a crowd ! My sister ! " 

" Bertha, my dear ! " said Caleb, " I have something on 
my mind I want to tell you, while we three are alone. Hear 
me kindly ! I have a confession to make to you, my darling." 

" A confession, father ? " 



CALEB'S CONFESSION. 289 

"I have wandered from the truth and lost myself, my 
child, 1 ' 1 said Caleb, with a pitiable expression in his bewildered 
face. " I have wandered from thq truth, intending to be 
kind to you ; and have been cruel."" 

She turned her wonder-stricken face towards him, and 
repeated " Cruel ! " 

"He accuses himself too strongly, Bertha, 11 said Dot. 
" You'll say so, presently. You'll be the first to tell him so. 11 

"He cruel to me! 11 cried Bertha, with a smile of in- 
credulity. 

" Not meaning it, my child," said Caleb. " But I have 
been ; though I never suspected it, till yesterday. My dear 
blind daughter, hear me and forgive me ! The world you 
live in, heart of mine, doesn't exist as I have represented 
it. The eyes you have trusted in, have been false to you. 11 

She turned her wonder-stricken face towards him still ; but 
drew back, and clung closer to her friend. 

" Your road in life was rough, my poor one, 11 said Caleb, 
" and I meant to smooth it for you. I have altered objects, 
changed the characters of people, invented many things that 
never have been, to make you happier. I have had con- 
cealments from you, put deceptions on you, God forgive me ! 
and surrounded you with fancies. 11 

" But living people are not fancies ! " she said hurriedly, 
and turning very pale, and still retiring from him. " You 
can't change them. 11 

" I have done so, Bertha, 11 pleaded Caleb. " There is one 
person that you know, my dove " 

" Oh father ! why do you say, I know ? " she answered, 
in a term of keen reproach. " What and, whom do / know ! 
I who have no leader ! I so miserably blind. 11 

In the anguish of her heart, she stretched out her hands, 
as if she were groping her way ; then spread them, in a 
manner most forlorn and sad, upon her face. 

" The marriage that takes place to-day, 11 said Caleb, " is 
with a stern, sordid, grinding man. A hard master to you 



290 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

and me, my dear, for many years. Ugly in his looks, and in 
his nature. Cold and callous always. Unlike what I have 
painted him to you in everything, my child. In everything.' 1 

"Oh why," cried the Blind Girl, tortured, as it seemed, 
almost beyond endurance, " why did you ever do this ! Why 
did you ever fill my heart so full, and then come in like 
Death, and tear away the objects of my love ! O Heaven, 
how blind I am ! How helpless and alone ! " 

Her afflicted father hung his head, and offered no reply but 
in his penitence and sorrow. 

She had been but a short time in this passion of regret, 
when the Cricket on the Hearth, unheard by all but her, 
began to chirp. Not merrily, but in a low, faint, sorrowing 
way. It was so mournful that her tears began to flow ; and 
when the Presence which had been beside the Carrier all 
night, appeared behind her, pointing to her father, they fell 
down like rain. 

She heard the Cricket-voice more plainly soon, and was 
conscious, through her blindness, of the Presence hovering 
about her father. 

"Mary," said the Blind Girl, "tell me what my home is. 
What it truly is."" 

" It is a poor place, Bertha ; very poor and bare indeed. 
The house will scarcely keep out wind and rain another 
winter. It is as roughly shielded from the weather, Bertha, 11 
Dot continued in a low, clear voice, "as your poor father 
in his sack-cloth coat." 

The Blind Girl, greatly agitated, rose, and led the Carrier's 
little wife aside. 

" Those presents that I took such care of ; that came almost 
at my wish, and were so dearly welcome to me, 1 ' she said, 
trembling; "where did they come from? Did you send 
them ? " 

" No." 

"Who then?" 

Dot saw she knew, already, and was silent. The Blind 



NOT BLIND ANY LONGER. 291 

Girl spread her hands before her face again. But in quite 
another manner now. 

" Dear Mary, a moment. One moment ? More this way. 
Speak softly to me. You are true, I know. You'd not 
deceive me now; would you?"" 

"No, Bertha, indeed!" 

" No, I am sure you would not. You have too much pity 
for me. Mary, look across the room to where we were just 
now to where my father is my father, so compassionate 
and loving to me and tell me what you see."" 

" I see,' 1 said Dot, who understood her well, " an old man 
sitting in a chair, and leaning sorrowfully on the back, with 
his face resting on his hand. As if his child should comfort 
him, Bertha."" 

" Yes, yes. She will. Go on. 11 

" He is an old man, worn with care and work. He is a 
spare, dejected, thoughtful, grey-haired man. I see him 
now, despondent and bowed down, and striving against 
nothing. But, Bertha, I have seen him many times before, 
and striving hard in many ways for one great sacred object. 
And I honour his grey head, and bless him ! " 

The Blind Girl broke away from her ; and throwing herself 
upon her knees before him, took the grey head to her breast. 

" It is my sight restored. It is my sight ! " she cried. 
" I have been blind, and now my eyes are open. I never knew 
him ! To think I might have died, and never truly seen the 
father who has been so loving to me ! " 

There were no words for Caleb's emotion. 

"There is not a gallant figure on this earth," exclaimed 
the Blind Girl, holding him in her embrace, " that I would 
love so dearly, and would cherish so devotedly, as this ! The 
greyer, and more worn, the dearer, father ! Never let them 
say I am blind again. There's not a furrow in his face, 
there's not a hair upon his head, that shall be forgotten 
in my prayers and thanks to Heaven ! "" 

Caleb managed to articulate " My Bertha ! " 



292 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

"And in my blindness, I believed him," said the girl, 
caressing him with tears of exquisite affection, " to be so 
different ! And having him beside me, day by day, so mind- 
ful of me always, never dreamed of this ! " 

"The fresh smart father in the blue coat, Bertha, 11 said 
poor Caleb. " He^ gone ! " 

" Nothing is gone," she answered. " Dearest father, no ! 
Everything is here in you. The father that I loved so well ; 
the father that I never loved enough, and never knew ; the 
benefactor whom I first began to reverence and love, because 
he had such sympathy for me; All are here in you. Nothing 
is dead to me. The soul of all that was most dear to me is 
here here, with the worn face, and the grey head. And I 
am NOT blind, father, any longer ! " 

Dot's whole attention had been concentrated, during this 
discourse, upon the father and daughter ; but looking, now, 
towards the little Haymaker in the Moorish meadow, she saw 
that the clock was within a few minutes of striking, and fell, 
immediately, into a nervous and excited state. 

" Father, 11 said Bertha, hesitating. " Mary. 11 

" Yes, my dear," returned Caleb. " Here she is. 11 

"There is no change in her. You never told me anything 
of her that was not true ? " 

"I should have done it, my dear, I am afraid, 11 returned 
Caleb, "if I could have made 'her better than she was. But 
I must have changed her for the worse, if I had changed her 
at all. Nothing could improve her, Bertha. 11 

Confident as the Blind Girl had been when she asked the 
question, her delight and pride in the reply and her renewed 
embrace of Dot, were charming to behold. 

"More changes than you think for, may happen though, 
my dear, 11 said Dot. "Changes for the better, I mean; 
changes for great joy to some of us. You mustn't let them 
startle you too much, if any such should ever happen, and 
affect you? Are those wheels upon the road? You've a 
quick ear, Bertha. Are they wheels ? " 



WHOSE STEP WAS IT? 293 

"Yes. Coming very fast."" 

" I I I know you have a quick ear," said Dot, placing 
her hand upon her heart, and evidently talking on, as fast 
as she could to hide its palpitating state, "because I have 
noticed it often, and because you were so quick to find out 
that strange step last night. Though why you should have 
said, as I very well recollect you did say, Bertha, 'Whose 
step is that!" and why you should have taken any greater 
observation of it than of any other step, I don't know. 
Though as I said just now, there are great changes in the 
world : great changes : and we can't do better than prepare 
ourselves to be surprised at hardly anything." 

Caleb wondered what this meant ; perceiving that she 
spoke to him, no less than to his daughter. He saw her, 
with astonishment, so fluttered and distressed that she could 
scarcely breathe ; and holding to a chair, to save herself 
from falling. 

" They are wheels indeed ! " she panted. " Coming nearer ! 
Nearer ! Very close ! And now you hear them stopping at 
the garden -gate ! And now you hear a step outside the door 
the same step, Bertha, is it not ! and now ! "- 

She uttered a wild cry of uncontrollable delight ; and 
running up to Caleb put her hands upon his eyes, as a young 
man rushed into the room, and flinging away his hat into the 
air, came sweeping down upon them. 

" Is it over ? " cried Dot. 

"Yes!" 

" Happily over ? " 

" Yes ! " 

"Do you recollect the voice, dear Caleb? Did you ever 
hear the like of it before?" cried Dot. 

" If my boy in the Golden South Americas was alive "- 
said Caleb, trembling. 

" He is alive ! " shrieked Dot, removing her hands from 
his eyes, and clapping them in ecstasy ; " look at him ! 
See where he stands before you, healthy and strong ! Your 



294 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

own dear son! Your own dear living, loving brother, 
Bertha ! " 

All honour to the little creature for her transports ! All 
honour to her tears and laughter, when the three were locked 
in one another's arms ! All honour to the heartiness with 
which she met the sunburnt sailor-fellow, with his dark 
streaming hair, half-way, and never turned her rosy little 
mouth aside, but suffered him to kiss it, freely, and to press 
her to his bounding heart ? 

And honour to the Cuckoo too why not! for bursting 
out of the trap-door in the Moorish Palace like a house- 
breaker, and hiccoughing twelve times on the assembled 
company, as if he had got drunk for joy ! 

The Carrier, entering, started back. And well he might, 
to find himself in such good company. 

" Look, John ! " said Caleb, exultingly, " look here ! My 
own boy from the Golden South Americas ! My own son ! 
Him that you fitted out, and sent away yourself ! Him that 
you were always such a friend to ! " 

The Carrier advanced to seize him by the hand ; but, re- 
coiling, as some feature in his face awakened a remembrance 
of the Deaf Man in the Cart, said : 

" Edward ! Was it you ? " 

"Now tell him all!" cried Dot. "Tell him all, Edward; 
and don't spare me, for nothing shall make me spare myself 
in his eyes, ever again." 

" I was the man," said Edward. 

"And could you steal, disguised, into the house of your 
old friend?" rejoined the Carrier. "There was a frank boy 
once how many years is it, Caleb, since we heard that he 
was dead, and had it proved, we thought ? who never would 
have done that." 

"There was a generous friend of mine, once; more a 
father to me than a friend ; " said Edward, " who never 
would have judged me, or any other man, unheard. You 
were he. So I am certain you will hear me now." 



A SURPRISE FOR THE CARRIER. 295 

The Carrier, with a troubled glance at Dot, who still kept 
far away from him, replied, " Well ! that's but fair. I will." 

" You must know that when I left here, a boy," said Edward, 
" I was in love, and my love was returned. She was a very 
young girl, who perhaps (you may tell me) didn t know her 
own mind. But I knew mine, and I had a passion for her." 

" You had ! " exclaimed the Carrier. " You ! " 

" Indeed I had," returned the other. " And she icturned 
it. I have ever since believed she did, and now I am sure 
she did." 

"Heaven help me!" said the Carrier. "This is worse 
than all." 

"Constant to her," said Edward, "and returning, full of 
hope, after many hardships and perils, to redeem my part of 
our old contract, I heard, twenty miles away, that she was 
false to me ; that she had forgotten me ; and had bestowed 
herself upon another and a richer man. I had no mind to 
reproach her ; but I wished to see her, and to prove beyond 
dispute that this was true. I hoped she might have been 
forced into it, against her own desire and recollection. It 
would be small comfort, but it would be some, I thought, 
and on I came. That I might have the truth, the real 
truth; observing freely for myself, and judging for myself, 
without obstruction on the one hand, or presenting my own 
influence (if I had any) before her, on the other; I dressed 
myself unlike myself you know how ; and waited on the road 
you know where. You had no suspicion of me ; neither 
had had she," pointing to Dot, " until I whispered in her 
ear at that fireside, and she so nearly betrayed me." 

" But when she knew that Edward was alive, and had come 
back," sobbed Dot, now speaking for herself, as she had 
burned to do, all through this narrative ; " and when she 
knew his purpose, she advised him by all means to keep his 
secret close ; for his old friend John Peerybingle was much 
too open in his nature, and too clumsy in all artifice being 
a clumsy man in general," said Dot, half laughing and half 



296 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

crying to keep it for him. And when she that's me, John," 

sobbed the little woman" told him all, and how his sweet- 
heart had believed him to be dead ; and how she had at last 
been over-persuaded by her mother into a marriage which the 
silly, dear old thing called advantageous; and when she 
that's me again, John told him they were not yet married 
(though close upon it), and that it would be nothing but a 
sacrifice if it went on, for there was no love on her side ; and 
when he went nearly mad with joy to hear it ; then she 
that's me again said she would go between them, as she had 
often done before in old times, John, and would sound his 
sweetheart and be sure that what she me again, John said 
and thought was right. And it WAS right, John ! And they 
were brought together, John ! And they were married, John, 
an hour ago ! And here's the Bride ! And Gruff' and Tackle- 
ton may die a bachelor ! And I'm a happy little woman, 
May, God bless you ! " 

She was an irresistible little woman, if that be anything 
to the purpose; and never so completely irresistible as in her 
present transports. There never were congratulations so 
endearing and delicious, as those she lavished on herself and 
on the Bride. 

Amid the tumult of emotions in his breast, the honest 
Carrier had stood, confounded. Flying, now, towards her, 
Dot stretched out her hand to stop him, and retreated as 
before. 

" No, John, no ! Hear all ! Don't love me any more, John, 
till you've heard every word I have to say. It was wrong to 
have a secret from you, John. I'm very sorry. I didn't think 
it any harm, till I came and sat down by you on the little 
stool last night. But when I knew by what was written in 
your face, that you had seen me walking in the gallery with 
Edward, and when I knew what you thought, I felt how 
giddy and how wrong it was. But oh; dear John, how could 
you, could you, think so ! " 

Little woman, how she sobbed again! John Peerybingle 



DOT TELLS ALL. 297 

would have caught her in his arms. But no; she wouldn't 
let him. 

"Don't love me yet, please, John! Not for a long time 
yet ! When I was sad about this intended marriage, dear, it 
was because I remembered May and Edward such young 
lovers ; and knew that her heart was far away from Tackleton. 
You believe that, now. Don't you, John ? " 

John was going to make another rush at this appeal ; but 
she stopped him again. 

" No ; keep there, please, John ! When I laugh at you, as 
I sometimes do, John, and call you clumsy and a dear old 
goose, and names of that sort, it's because I love you, John, 
so well, and take such pleasure in your ways, and wouldn't 
see you altered in the least respect to have you made a King 
to-morrow." 

" Hooroar ! " said Caleb with unusual vigour. " My 
opinion ! " 

"And when I speak of people being middle-aged, and 
steady, John, and pretend that we are a humdrum couple, 
going on in a jog-trot sort of way, it's only because I'm such 
a silly little thing, John, that I like, sometimes, to act a kind 
of Play with Baby, and all that : and make believe." 

She saw that he was coming ; and stopped him again. But 
she was very nearly too late. 

" No, don't love me for another minute or two, if you 
please, John ! What I want most to tell you, I have kept to 
the last. My dear, good, generous John, when we were talk- 
ing the other night about the Cricket, I had it on my lips to 
say, that at first I did not love you quite so dearly as I do 
now ; that when I first came home here, I was half afraid I 
mightn't learn to love you every bit as well as I hoped and 
prayed I might being so very young, John ! But, dear John, 
every day and hour I loved you more and more. And if I 
could have loved you better than I do, the noble words 
I heard you say this morning, would have made me. But I 
can't. All the affection that I had (it was a great deal, John) 



298 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

I gave you, as you well deserve, long, long ago, and I have 
no more left to give. Now, my dear husband, take me to 
your heart again ! That's my home, John ; and never, never 
think of sending me to any other ! " 

You never will derive so much delight from seeing a glorious 
little woman in the arms of a third party, as you would have 
felt if you had seen Dot run into the Carrier's embrace. It 
was the most complete, unmitigated, soul-fraught little piece 
of earnestness that ever you beheld in all your days. 

You may be sure the Carrier was in a state of perfect 
rapture; and you may be sure Dot was likewise; and you 
may be sure they all were, inclusive of Miss Slowboy, who 
wept copiously for joy, and wishing to include her young 
charge in the general interchange of congratulations, handed 
round the Baby to everybody in succession, as if it were 
something to drink. 

But, now, the sound of wheels was heard again outside the 
door ; and somebody exclaimed that Gruff' and Tackleton was 
coming back. Speedily that worthy gentleman appeared, look- 
ing warm and flustered. 

" Why, what the Devil's this, John Peerybingle ! " said 
Tackleton. "There's some mistake. I appointed Mrs. 
Tackleton to meet me at the church, and 111 swear I passed 
her on the road, on her way here. Oh ! here she is ! I beg 
your pardon, sir ; I haven't the pleasure of knowing you ; but 
if you can do me the favour to spare this young lady, she 
has rather a particular engagement this morning." 

"But I can't spare her," returned Edward. "I couldn't 
think of it." 

" What do you mean, you vagabond ? " said Tackleton. 

"I mean, that as I can make allowance for your being 
vexed," returned the other, with a smile, I am as deaf to 
harsh discourse this morning, as I was to all discourse last 
night." 

The look that Tackleton bestowed upon him, and the start 
he gave ! 



MRS. EDWARD PLUMMER. 299 

"I am sorry, sir," said Edward, holding out May's left hand, 
and especially the third finger ; " that the young lady can't 
accompany you to church; but as she has been there once, 
this morning, perhaps you'll excuse her. 1 ' 

Tackleton looked hard at the third finger, and took a little 
piece of silver-paper, apparently containing a ring, from his 
waistcoat-pocket. 

"Miss Slowboy," said Tackleton. "Will you have the 
kindness to throw that in the fire? Thank'ee." 

" It was a previous engagement, quite an old engagement, 
that prevented my wife from keeping her appointment with 
you, I assure you," said Edward. 

"Mr. Tackleton will do me the justice to acknowledge that 
I revealed it to him faithfully ; and that I told him, many 
times, I never could forget it," said May, blushing. 

"Oh certainly!" said Tackleton. "Oh to be sure. Oh 
it's all right. It's quite correct. Mrs. Edward Plummer, I 
infer ? " 

" That's the name," returned the bridegroom. 
' "Ah, I shouldn't have known you, sir," said Tackleton, 
scrutinising his face narrowly, and making a low bow. "I 
give you joy, sir ! " 
"Thank'ee." 

"Mrs. Peerybingle," said Tackleton, turning suddenly to 
where she stood with her husband ; " I am sorry. You haven't 
done me a very great kindness, but, upon my life I am sorry. 
You are better than I thought you. John Peerybingle, I am 
sorry. You understand me ; that's enough. It's quite correct, 
ladies and gentlemen all, and perfectly satisfactory. Good 
morning ! " 

With these words he carried it off, and earned himself off 
too : merely stopping at the door, to take the flowers and 
favours from his horse's head, and to kick that animal once, 
in the ribs, as a means of informing him that there was a 
screw loose in his arrangements. 

Of course it became a serious duty now, to make such a 



300 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

day of it, as should mark these events for a high Feast and 
Festival in the Peerybingle Calendar for evermore. Accord- 
ingly, Dot went to work to produce such an entertainment, 
as should reflect undying honour on the house and on every 
one concerned ; and in a very short space of time, she was 
up to her dimpled elbows in flour, and whitening the Carrier's 
coat, every time he came near her, by stopping him to give 
him a kiss. That good fellow washed the greens, and peeled 
the turnips, and broke the plates, and upset iron pots full of 
cold water on the fire, and made himself useful in all sorts 
of ways : while a couple of professional assistants, hastily 
called in from somewhere in the neighbourhood, as on a point 
of life or death, ran against each other in all the doorways 
and round all the corners, and everybody tumbled over Tilly 
Slowboy and the Baby, everywhere. Tilly never came out in 
such force before. Her ubiquity was the theme of general 
admiration. She was a stumbling-block in the passage at 
five-and-twenty minutes past two ; a man-trap in the kitchen 
at half-past two precisely ; and a pitfall in the garret at five- 
and-twenty minutes to three. The Baby's head was, as it 
were, a test and touchstone for every description of matter, 
animal, vegetable, and mineral. Nothing was in use that 
day that didn't come, at some time or other, into close 
acquaintance with it. 

Then, there was a great Expedition set on foot to go and 
find out Mrs. Fielding; and to be dismally penitent to that 
excellent gentlewoman; and to bring her back, by force, if 
needful, to be happy and forgiving. And when the Expedi- 
tion first discovered her, she would listen to no terms at all, 
but said, an unspeakable number of times, that ever she 
should have lived to see the day ! and couldn't be got to say 
anything else, except, " Now carry me to the grave : " which 
seemed absurd, on account of her not being dead, or anything 
at all like it. After a time, she lapsed into a state of dreadful 
calmness, and observed, that when that unfortunate train of 
circumstances had occurred in the Indigo Trade, she had 



DOTS FATHER AND MOTHER. 301 

foreseen that she would be exposed, during her whole life, to 
every species of insult and contumely ; and that she was glad 
to find it was the case ; and begged they wouldn't trouble 
themselves about her, for what was she ? oh, dear ! a nobody ! 
but would forget that such a being lived, and would take 
their course in life without her. From this bitterly sarcastic 
mood, she passed into an angry one, in which she gave vent 
to the remarkable expression that the worm would turn if 
trodden on ; and, after that, she yielded to a soft regret, and 
said, if they had only given her their confidence, what might 
she not have had it in her power to suggest ! Taking advan- 
tage of this crisis in her feelings, the Expedition embraced 
her ; and she very soon had her gloves on, and was on her way 
to John Peerybingle's in a state of unimpeachable gentility ; 
with a paper parcel at her side containing a cap of state, 
almost as tall, and quite as stiff', as a mitre. 

Then, there were Dot's father and mother to come, in another 
little chaise ; and they were behind their time ; and fears were 
entertained ; and there was much looking out for them down 
the road ; and Mrs. Fielding always would look in the wrong 
and morally impossible direction ; and being apprised thereof, 
hoped she might take the liberty of looking where she pleased. 
At last they came : a chubby little couple, jogging along in 
a snug and comfortable little way that quite belonged to the 
Dot family; and Dot and her mother, side by side, were 
wonderful to see. They were so like each other. 

Then, Dot's mother had to renew her acquaintance with 
May's mother ; and May's mother always stood on her gen- 
tility; and Dot's mother never stood on anything but her 
active little feet. And old Dot so ,to call Dot's father, 
I forgot it wasn't his right name, but never mind took 
liberties, and shook hands at first sight, and seemed to think 
a cap but so much starch and muslin, and didn't defer himself 
at all to the Indigo Trade, but said there was no help for 
it now; and, in Mrs. Fielding's summing up, was a good- 
natured kind of man but coarse, my dear. 



302 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

I wouldn't have missed Dot, doing the honours in her 
wedding-gown, my benison on her bright face ! for any money. 
No ! nor the good Carrier, so jovial and so ruddy, at the 
bottom of the table. Nor the brown, fresh sailor-fellow, and 
his handsome wife. Nor any one among them. To have 
missed the dinner would have been to miss as jolly and as 
stout a meal as man need eat ; and to have missed the over- 
flowing cups in which they drank The Wedding-Day, would 
have been the greatest miss of all. 

After dinner, Caleb sang the song about the Sparkling 
Bowl. As I'm a living man, hoping to keep so, for a year 
or two, he sang it through. 

And, by-the-by, a most unlooked-for incident occurred, 
just as he finished the last verse. 

There was a tap at the door; and a man came staggering 
in, without saying with your leave, or by your leave, with 
something heavy on his head. Setting this down in the 
middle of the table, symmetrically in the centre of the nuts 
and apples, he said : 

"Mr. Tackleton's compliments, and as he hasn't got no 
use for the cake himself, p'raps you'll eat it." 

And with those words, he walked off. 

There Avas some surprise among the company, as you may 
imagine. Mrs. Fielding, being a lady of infinite discernment, 
suggested that the cake was poisoned, and related a narrative 
of a cake, which, within her knowledge, had turned a seminary 
for young ladies, blue. But she was overruled by acclama- 
tion; and the cake was cut by May, with much ceremony 
and rejoicing. 

I don't think any one had tasted it, when there came 
another tap at the door, and the same man appeared again, 
having under his arm a vast brown-paper parcel. 

"Mr. Tackleton's compliments, and he's sent a few toys 
for the Babby. They ain't ugly." 

After the delivery of which expressions, he retired again. 

The whole party would have experienced great difficulty in 



MR. TACKLETON IN A NEW ASPECT. 303 

finding words for their astonishment, even if they had had 
ample time to seek them. But they had none at all ; for 
the messenger had scarcely shut the door behind him, when 
there came another tap, and Tackleton himself walked in. 

" Mrs. Peerybingle ! " said the Toy-merchant, hat in hand. 
"Fm sorry. Fin more sorry than I was this morning. I 
have had time to think of it. John Peerybingle ! Fm sour 
by disposition ; but I can't help being sweetened, more or 
less, by coming face to face with such a man as you. Caleb ! 
This unconscious little nurse gave me a broken hint last 
night, of which I have found the thread. I blush to think 
how easily I might have bound you and your daughter to 
me, and what a miserable idiot I was, when I took her for 
one ! Friends, one and all, my house is very lonely to-night. 
I have not so much as a Cricket on my Hearth. I have 
scared them all away. Be gracious to me ; let me join this 
happy party ! " 

He was at home in five minutes. You never saw such a 
fellow. What had he been doing with himself all his life, 
never to have known, before, his great capacity of being 
jovial ! Or what had the Fairies been doing with him, to 
have effected such a change ! 

" John ! you won't send me home this evening ; will you ? " 
whispered Dot. 

He had been very near it though ! 

There wanted but one living creature to make the party 
complete ; and, in the twinkling of an eye, there he was, very 
thirsty with hard running, and engaged in hopeless endeavours 
to squeeze his head into a narrow pitcher. He had gone 
with the cart to its journey's end, very much disgusted with 
the absence of his master, and stupendously rebellious to 
the Deputy. After lingering about the stable for some 
little time, vainly attempting to incite the old horse to the 
mutinous act of returning on his own account, he had 
walked into the tap-room and laid himself down before 
the fire. But suddenly yielding to the conviction that the 



304 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



Deputy was a humbug, and must be abandoned, he had got 
up again, turned tail, and come home. 

There was a dance in the evening. With which general 

mention of that 
recreation, I 

&W }a?y should have left 
- it alone, if I 
had not some 
reason to sup- 
pose that it 
was quite an 
original dance, 
and one of a 
uncommon figure. It was 
formed in an odd way ; in this way. 
Edward, that sailor-fellow a good free 
dashing sort of a fellow he was had been 
telling them various marvels concerning 
- : l'ff( parrots, and 
mines, and 
Mexicans, and 
gold dust, when 
all at once he 
took it in his 
head to jump 
up from his seat 
and propose a 
dance ; for 
Bertha's harp 
was there, and 




Dot V, , ittle 

TO sik cu ; ? " s were ver; 

rooking his p,pe, and she liked sitting by him, best. 



THE DANCE. 305 

Mrs. Fielding had no choice, of course, but to say her dancing 
davs were over, after that ; and everybody said the same, 
except May ; May was ready. 

So, May and Edward got up, amid great applause, to dance 
alone ; and Bertha plays her liveliest tune. 

Well ! if you'll believe me, they have not been dancing five 
minutes, when suddenly the Carrier flings his pipe away, takes 
Dot round the waist, dashes out into the room, and starts 
off with her, toe and heel, quite wonderfully. Tackleton no 
sooner sees this, than he skims across to Mrs. Fielding, takes 
her round the waist, and follows suit. Old Dot no sooner 
sees this, than up he is, all alive, whisks off Mrs-. Dot in the 
middle of the dance, and is the foremost there. Caleb no 
sooner sees this, than he clutches Tilly Slowboy by both hands 
and goes off at score ; Miss Slowboy, firm in the belief that 
diving hotly in among the other couples, and effecting any 
number of concussions with them, is your only principle of 
footing it. 

Hark ! how the Cricket joins the music with its Chirp, 
Chirp, Chirp ; and how the kettle hums ! 

******* 

But what is this ! Even as I listen to them, blithely, and 
turn towards Dot, for one last glimpse of a little figure very 
pleasant to me, she and the rest have vanished into air, and 
I am left alone. A Cricket sings upon the Hearth ; a broken 
childVtoy lies upon the ground ; and nothing else remains. 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE, 

& Hobe 



Ovtstmns Uook 



COK 1)1 ALLY INSCRIBED TO MY ENGLISH FRIENDS 
IN SWITZERLAND. 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 





Engraver. 


Artist. 


PAGB 


FRONTISPIECE. 


Thompson. 


D. MACLISE, R.A. 




TITLE . 


Thotfl'Vsoii. 


D. MACLISE R. A. 




PART THE FIRST . 


Dalziel. 


R. DOYLE 


313 


WAR . 


Williams. 


C. STANFIELD R.A. 


314 


PEACE 


Williams. 


C. STANFIELD, R.A. 


315 


THE PARTING BREAKFAST . 


Dalziel. 


J. LEECH 


327 


PART THE SECOND. 


Oreen. 


R. DOYLE 


341 


S.MTCHEY AND CBAGGS . 


Dalziel. 


J. LEECH 


344 


THE SECRET INTER VIEW. 


Williams. 


D. MACLISE, R.A. . 


365 


THE NIGHT OF THE RETTJKN. 


Dalziel. 


J. LEECH 


374 


PART THE THIRD . . . 


Dalziel. 


R. DOYLE 


379 


THE NUTMEG-GRATER . . 


Williams. 


C. STANFIELD, R.A. 


381 


THE SISTERS . . . ,. 


Williams. 


D. MACLISE, R.A. . 


408 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



NCE upon a time, it matters 
little when, and in stalwart 
England, it matters little where, 
a fierce battle was fought. It 




314 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



was fought upon a long summer day when the waving grass 
was green. Many a wild flower formed by the Almighty 
Hand to be a perfumed goblet for the dew, felt its enamelled 
cup' filled high with blood that day, and shrinking dropped. 

Many an insect 
deriving its deli- 
cate colour from 
harmless leaves 
and herbs, was 
stained anew 
that day by 
dying men, and 
marked its 
frightened way 
with an un- 
natural track. 
The painted 
butterfly took 
blood into the 
air upon the 
edges of its 
wings. The 

stream ran red. The trodden ground 
became a quagmire, whence, from sullen 
pools collected in the prints of human 
feet and horses 1 hoofs, the one prevail- 
ing hue still lowered and glimmered at 
the sun. 

Heaven keep us from a knowledge of 
the sights the moon beheld upon that 
field, when, coming up above the black 
line of distant rising-ground, softened and blurred at the edge 
by trees, she rose into the sky and looked upon the plain, 
strewn with upturned faces that had once at mothers' breasts 
sought mothers 1 eyes, or slumbered happily. Heaven keep us 
from a knowledge of the secrets whispered afterwards upon the 





THE OLD BA1TLE-GROUND. 



315 



tainted wind that blew across the scene of that day's work 
and that night's death and suffering ! Many a lonely moon 
was bright upon the battle-ground, and many a star kept 
mournful watch upon it, and many a wind from every 

quarter of the 
earth blew over 
it, before the 
traces of the 
fight were worn 
away. 

They lurked 
and lingered for 
a long time, but 
survived in little 
things ; for, 
Nature, far 
above the evil 
passions of men, 
soon recovered 

Her serenity, and smiled upon 
the guilty battle-ground as she 
had done before, when it was 
innocent. The larks sang high 
above it ; the swallows skimmed 
and dipped and flitted to and 
fro ; the shadows of the flying 
". clouds pui'sued each other swiftly, over 
grass and corn and turnip-field and 
wood, and over .roof and church-spire 
in the nestling town among the trees, away 
into the bright distance on the borders of 
the sky and earth, where the red sunsets 
faded. Crops were sown, and grew up, and were gathered 
in ; the stream that had been crimsoned, turned a water- 
mill ; men whistled at the plough ; gleaners and haymakers 
were seen in quiet groups at work ; sheep and oxen pastured ; 




316 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

boys whooped and called, in fields, to scare away the birds ; 
smoke rose from cottage chimneys ; sabbath bells rang peace- 
fully ; old people lived and died ; the timid creatures of the 
field, and simple flowers of the bush and garden, grew and 
withered in their destined terms : and all upon the fierce 
and bloody battle-ground, where thousands upon thousands 
had been killed in the great fight. 

But, there were deep green patches in the growing corn at 
first, that people looked at awfully, Year after year they 
re-appeared ; and it was known that underneath those fertile 
spots, heaps of men and horses lay buried, indiscriminately, 
enriching the ground. The husbandmen who ploughed those 
places, shrunk from the great worms abounding there ; and 
the sheaves they yielded, were, for many a long year, called 
the Battle Sheaves, and set apart; and no one ever knew a 
Battle Sheaf to be among the last load at a Harvest Home. 
For a long time, every furrow that was turned, revealed some 
fragments of the fight. For a long time, there were wounded 
trees upon the battle-ground ; and scraps of hacked and broken 
fence and wall, where deadly struggles had been made ; and 
trampled parts where not a leaf or blade would grow. For 
a long time, no village girl would dress her hair or bosom 
with the sweetest flower from that field of death : and after 
many a year had come and gone, the berries growing there, 
were still believed to leave too deep a stain upon the hand 
that plucked them. 

The Seasons in their course, however, though they passed as 
lightly as the summer clouds themselves, obliterated, in the 
lapse of time, even these remains of the old conflict ; and 
wore away such legendary traces of it as the neighbouring 
people carried in their minds, until they dwindled into old 
wives' tales, dimly remembered round the winter fire, and 
waning every year. Where the wild flowers and berries had 
so long remained upon the stem untouched, gardens arose, 
and houses wej built, and children played at battles on the 
turf. The wounded trees had long ago' made Christmas logs, 



AN OLD STONE HOUSE. 317 

and blazed and roared away. The deep green patches were 
no greener now than the memory of those who lay in dust 
below. The ploughshare still turned up from time to time 
some rusty bits of metal, but it was hard to say what use 
they had ever served, and those who found them wondered 
and disputed. An old dinted corselet, and a helmet, had 
been hanging in the church so long, that the same weak half- 
blind old man who tried in vain to make them out above 
the whitewashed arch, had marvelled at them as a baby. If 
the host slain upon the field, could have l>een for a moment 
reanimated in the forms in which they fell, each upon the 
spot that was the bed of his untimely death, gashed and 
ghastly soldiers would have stared in, hundreds deep, at 
household door and window ; and would have risen on the 
hearths of quiet homes ; and would have been the garnered 
store of barns and granaries; and would have started up 
between the cradled infant and its nurse ; and would have 
floated with the stream, and whirled round on the mill, and 
crowded the orchard, and burdened the meadow, and piled 
the rickyard high with dying men. So altered was the 
battle-ground, where thousands upon thousands had been 
killed in the great fight. 

Nowhere more altered, perhaps, about a hundred years 
ago, than in one little orchard attached to an old stone 
house with a honeysuckle porch ; where, on a bright autumn 
morning, there were sounds of music and laughter, and where 
two girls danced merrily together on the grass, while some 
half-dozen peasant women standing on ladders, gathering the 
apples from the trees, stopped in thjeir work to look down, 
and share their enjoyment. It was a pleasant, lively, natural 
scene ; a beautiful day, a retired spot ; and the two girls, 
quite unconstrained and careless, danced in the freedom and 
gaiety of their hearts. 

If there were no such thing as display in the world, my 
private opinion is, and I hope you agree with me, that we 
might get on a great deal better than we do, and might 



318 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

be infinitely more agreeable company than we are. It was 
charming to see how these girls danced. They had no 
spectators but the apple-pickers on the ladders. They were 
very glad to please them, but they danced to please them- 
selves (or at least you would have supposed so) ; and you 
could no more help admiring, than they could help dancing. 
How they did dance ! 

Not like opera-dancers. Not at all. And not like Madame 
Anybody's finished pupils. Not the least. It was not 
quadrille dancing, nor minuet dancing, nor even country-dance 
dancing. It was neither in the old style, nor the new style, 
nor the French style, nor the English style : though it may 
have been, by accident, a trifle in the Spanish style, which is 
a free and joyous one, I am told, deriving a delightful air of 
off-hand inspiration, from the chirping little castanets. As 
they danced among the orchard trees, and down the groves 
of stems and back again, and twirled each other lightly round 
and round, the influence of their airy motion seemed to 
spread and spread, in the sun-lighted scene, like an expand- 
ing circle in the water. Their streaming hair and fluttering 
skirts, the elastic grass beneath their feet, the boughs that 
rustled in the morning air the flashing leaves, the speckled 
shadows on the soft green ground the balmy wind that 
swept along the landscape, glad to turn the distant windmill, 
cheerily everything between the two girls, and the man and 
team at plough upon the ridge of land, where they showed 
against the sky as if they were the last things in the world- 
seemed dancing too. 

At last, the younger of the dancing sisters, out of breath, 
and laughing gaily, threw herself upon a bench to rest. The 
other leaned against a tree hard by. The music, a wandering 
harp and fiddle, left off with a flourish, as if it boasted of 
its freshness; though the truth is, it had gone at such a 
pace, and worked itself to such a pitch of competition with 
the dancing, that it never could have held on, half a minute 
longer. The apple-pickers on the ladders raised a hum and 



DR. JEDDLER AND HIS TWO DAUGHTERS. 319 

murmur of applause, and then, in keeping with the sound, 
bestirred themselves to work again like bees. 

The more actively, perhaps, because an elderly gentleman, 
who was no other than Doctor Jeddler himself it was Doctor 
Jeddler's house and orchard, you should know, and these were 
Doctor Jeddler's daughters came bustling out to see what 
was the matter, and who the deuce played music on his 
property, before breakfast. For he was a great philosopher, 
Doctor Jeddler, and not very musical. 

" Music and dancing to-day ! " said the Doctor, stopping 
short, and speaking to himself. " I thought they dreaded to- 
day. But it's a world of contradictions. Why, Grace, why, 
Marion ! " he added, aloud, " is the world more mad than 
usual this morning? 1 " 

" Make some allowance for it, father, if it be, v> replied his 
younger daughter, Marion, going close to him, and looking 
into his face, "for it's somebody's birth-day."" 

" Somebody's birth-day, Puss ! " replied the Doctor. " Don't 
you know it's always somebody's birth-day ? Did you never 
hear how many new performers enter on this ha ! ha ! ha ! 
it's impossible to speak gravely of it on this preposterous 
and ridiculous business called Life, every minute ? " 

" No, father ! " 

"No, not you, of course; you're a woman almost," said 
the Doctor. " By-the-by," and he looked into the pretty 
face, still close to his, " I suppose it's your birth-day." 

"No! Do you really, father?" cried his pet daughter, 
pursing up her red lips to be kissed. 

"There! Take my love with it," said the Doctor, im- 
printing his upon them ; " and many happy returns of the 
the idea ! of the day. The notion of wishing happy returns 
in such a farce as this," said the Doctor to himself, " is good ! 
Ha ! ha ! ha ! " 

Doctor Jeddler was, as I have said, a great philosopher, 
and the heart and mystery of his philosophy was, to look upon 
the world as a gigantic practical joke; as something too 



320 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

absurd to be considered seriously, by any rational man. His 
system of belief had been, in the beginning, part and parcel 
of the battle-ground on which he lived, as you shall presently 
understand. 

" Well ! But how did you get the music ? " asked the 
Doctor. " Poultry-stealers, of course ! Where did the min- 
strels come from ? " 

"Alfred sent the music,"" said his daughter Grace, adjusting 
a few simple flowers in her sister's hair, with which, in her 
admiration of that youthful beauty, she had herself adorned 
it half-an-hour before, and which the dancing had disarranged. 

" Oh ! Alfred sent the music, did he ? " returned the 
Doctor. 

"Yes. He met it coming out of the town as he was 
entering early. The men are travelling on foot, and rested 
there last night ; and as it was Marion's birth-day, and he 
thought it would please her, he sent them on, with a pencilled 
note to me, saying that if I thought so too, they had come 
to serenade her." 

" Ay, ay," 11 said the Doctor, carelessly, " he always takes 
your opinion." 

"And my opinion being favourable," said Grace, good- 
humouredly ; and pausing for a moment to admire the pretty 
head she decorated, with her own thrown back ; " and Marion 
being in high spirits, and beginning to dance, I joined her. 
And so we danced to Alfred's music till we were out of 
breath. And we thought the music all the gayer for being 
sent by Alfred. Didn't we, dear Marion ? " 

"Oh, I don't know, Grace. How you tease me about 
Alfred." 

"Tease you by mentioning your lover?" said her sister. 

"I am sure I don't much care to have him mentioned," 
said the wilful beauty, stripping the petals from some flowers 
she held, and scattering them on the ground. I am almost 
tired of hearing of him ; and as to his being my lover " 

"Hush! Don't speak lightly of a true heart, which is all 



A TRUE HEART. 321 

your own, Marion," cried her sister, " even in jest. There is 
not a truer heart than Alfred's in the world ! " 

"No no," said Marion, raising her eyebrows with a 
pleasant air of careless consideration, "perhaps not. But I 
don't know that there's any great merit in that. I I don't 
want him to be so very true. I never asked him. If he 

expects that I But, dear Grace, why need we talk of 

him at all, just now !." 

It was agreeable to see the graceful figures of the blooming 
sisters, twined together, lingering among the trees, conversing 
thus, with earnestness opposed to lightness, yet, with love 
responding tenderly to love. And it was very curious indeed 
to see the younger sister's eyes suffused with tears, and 
something fervently and deeply felt, breaking through the. 
wilfulness of what she said, and striving with it painfully. 

The difference between them, in respect of age, could not 
exceed four years at most ; but, Grace, as often happens in 
such cases, when no mother watches over both (the Doctor's 
wife was dead), seemed, in her gentle care of her young sister, 
and in the steadiness of her devotion to her, older than she 
was ; and more removed, in course of nature, from all com- 
petition with her, or participation, otherwise than through 
her sympathy and true affection, in her wayward fancies, than 
their ages seemed to warrant. Great character of mother, 
that, even in this shadow and faint reflection of it, purifies 
the heart, and raises the exalted nature nearer to the angels ! 

The Doctor's reflections, as he looked after them, and heard 
the purport of their discourse, were limited at first to certain 
merry meditations on the folly of all loves and likings, and 
the idle imposition pi-actised on themselves by young people, 
who believed for a moment, that there could be anything 
serious in such bubbles, and were always undeceived always ! 

But, the home-adorning, self-denying qualities of Grace, 
and her sweet temper, so gentle and retiring, yet including 
so much constancy and bravery of spirit, seemed all expressed 
to him in the contrast between her quiet household figure 

Y 



322 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

and that of his younger and more beautiful child ; and he wa* 
sorry for her sake sorry for them both that life should be 
such a very ridiculous business as it was. 

The Doctor never dreamed of inquiring whether his children, 
or either of them, helped in any way to make the scheme a 
serious one. But then he was a Philosopher. 

A kind and generous man by nature, he had stumbled, by 
chance, over that common Philosophers stone (much more 
easily discovered than the object of the alchemist's re- 
searches), which sometimes trips up kind and generous men, 
and has the fatal property of turning gold to dross and every 
precious thing to poor account. 

" Britain ! " cried the Doctor. " Britain ! Holloa ! " 
A small man, with an uncommonly sour and discontented 
face, emerged from the house, and returned to this call the 
unceremonious acknowledgment of " Now then ! " 
" Where's the breakfast table ? " said the Doctor. 
"In the house," returned Britain. 

"Are you going to spread it out here, as you were told 
last night ? " said the Doctor. " Don't you know that there 
are gentlemen coming. That there's business to be done 
this morning, before the coach comes by ? That this is a 
very particular occasion ? " 

"I couldn't do anything, Dr. Jeddler, till the women had 
done getting in the apples, could I ? " said Britain, his voice 
rising with his reasoning, so that it was very loud at last. 

" Well, have they done now ? " replied the Doctor, looking 
at his watch, and clapping his hands. " Come ! make haste ! 
where's Clemency ? " 

" Here am I, Mister," said a voice from one of the ladders, 
which a pair of clumsy feet descended briskly. " It's all done 
now. Clear away, gals. Everything shall be ready for you 
in half a minute, Mister." 

With that she began to bustle about most vigorously; 
presenting, as she did so, an appearance sufficiently peculiar 
to justify a word of introduction. 



CLEMENCY NEWCOME. 303 

She was about thirty years old, and had a sufficiently plump 
and cheerful face, though it was twisted up into an odd 
expression of tightness that made it comical. But, the ex- 
traordinary homeliness of her gait and manner, would have 
superseded any face in the world. To say that she had two 
left legs, and somebody else's arms, and that all four limbs 
seemed to be out of joint, and to start from perfectly wrong 
places when they were set in motion, is to offer the* mildest 
outline of the reality. To say that she was perfectly content 
and satisfied with these arrangements, and regarded them 
as being no business of hers, and that she took her arms 
and legs as they came, and allowed them to dispose of them- 
selves just as it happened, is to render faint justice to her 
equanimity. Her dress was a prodigious pair of self-willed 
ehoes, that never wanted to go where her feet went; blue 
stockings ; a printed gown of many colours, and the most 
hideous pattern procurable for money ; and a white apron. 
She always wore short sleeves, and always had, by some 
accident, grazed elbows, in which she took so lively an interest, 
that she was continually trying to turn them round and get 
impossible views of them. In general, a little cap placed 
somewhere on her head ; though it was rarely to be met with 
in the place usually occupied in other subjects, by that article 
of dress ; but, from head to foot she was scrupulously clean, 
and maintained a kind of dislocated tidiness. Indeed, her 
laudable anxiety to be tidy and compact in her own con- 
science as well as in the public eye, gave rise to one of her most 
startling evolutions, which was to grasp herself sometimes by 
a sort of wooden handle (part of her clothing, and familiarly 
called a busk), and wrestle as it were with her garments, until 
they fell into a symmetrical arrangement. 

Such, in outward form and garb, was Clemency Newcome; 
who was supposed to have unconsciously originated a corrup- 
tion of her own Christian name, from Clementina (but nobody 
knew, for the deaf old mother, a very phenomenon of age, 
whom she had supported almost from a child, was dead, and 



324 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

she had no other relation) ; who now busied herself in pre- 
paring the table, and who stood, at intervals, with her bare red 
arms crossed, rubbing her grazed elbows with opposite hands, 
and staring at it very composedly, until she suddenly remem- 
bered something else she wanted, and jogged off' to fetch it. 

"Here are them two lawyers a-coming, Mister!" said 
Clemency, in a tone of no very great good-will. 

"Ah!" cried the Doctor, advancing to the gate to meet 
them. " Good morning, good morning ! Grace, my dear ! 
Marion ! Here are Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs. Where's 
Alfred!" 

" He'll be back directly, father, no doubt," said Grace. 
" He had so much to do this morning in his preparations 
for departure, that he was up and out by daybreak. Good 
morning, gentlemen." 

" Ladies ! " said Mr. Snitchey, " for Self and Craggs," who 
bowed, "good morning! Miss," to Marion, "I kiss your 
hand." Which he did. "And I wish you" which he might 
or might not, for he didn't look, at first sight, like a gentle- 
man troubled with many warm outpourings of soul, in behalf 
of other people, "a hundred happy returns of this auspicious 
day." 

"Ha ha ha!" laughed the Doctor thoughtfully, with his 
hands in his pockets. " The great farce in a hundred acts ! v 

"You wouldn't, I am sure," said Mr. Snitchey, standing 
a small professional blue bag against one leg of the table, 
"cut the great farce short for this actress, at all events, 
Doctor Jeddler." 

" No," returned the Doctor. " God forbid ! May she live 
Jto laugh at it, as long as she can laugh, and then say, with 
the French wit, 'The farce is ended; draw the curtain'" 1 

" The French wit," said Mr. Snitchey, peeping sharply into 
his blue bag, "was wrong, Doctor Jeddler, and your philo- 
sophy is altogether wrong, depend upon it, as I have often 
told you. Nothing serious in life ! What do you call law ? " 

" A joke," replied the Doctor. 



THINGS ARE TOO EASY. 325 

"Did you ever go to law?" asked Mr. Snitchey, looking 
out of the blue bag. 

"Never," returned the Doctor. 

"If you ever do," said Mr. Snitchev, "perhaps you'll alter 
that opinion." 

Craggs, who seemed to be represented by Snitchey, and to 
be conscious of little or no separate existence or personal 
individuality, offered a remark of his own in this place. It 
involved the only idea of which he did not stand seized and 
possessed in equal moieties with Snitchey ; but, he had some 
partners in it among the wise men of the world. 

" It's made a great deal too easy," said Mr. Craggs. 

" Law is ? " asked the Doctor. 

"Yes," said Mr. Craggs, "everything is. Everything 
appears to me to be made too easy, now-a-days. It's the 
vice of these times. If the world is a joke (I am not pre- 
pared to say it isn't), it ought to be made a very difficult 
joke to crack. It ought to be as hard a struggle, sir, as 
possible. That's the intention. But, it's being made far 
too easy. We are oiling the gates of life. They ought to be 
rusty. We shall have them beginning to turn, soon, with a 
smooth sound. Whereas they ought to grate upon their 
hinges, sir." 

Mr. Craggs seemed positively to grate upon his own hinges, 
as he delivered this opinion ; to which he communicated 
immense effect being a cold, hard, dry, man, dressed in 
grey and white, like a flint ; with small twinkles in his eyes 
as if something struck sparks out of them. The three 
natural kingdoms, indeed, had each a fanciful representative 
among this brotherhood of disputants ;' for Snitchey was like 
a magpie or raven (only not so sleek), and the Doctor had 
a streaked face like a winter-pippin, with here and there a 
dimple to express the peckings of the birds, and a very little 
bit of pigtail behind that stood for the stalk. 

As the active figure of a handsome young man, dressed for 
a journey, and followed by a porter bearing several packages 



326 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

and baskets, entered the orchard at a brisk pace, and with 
an air of gaiety and hope that accorded well with the morn- 
ing, these three drew together, like the brothers of the sister 
Fates, or like the Graces most effectually disguised, or like 
the three weird prophets on the heath, and greeted him. 

" Happy returns, Alf ! " said the Doctor, lightly. 

"A hundred happy returns of this auspicious day, Mr. 
Heathfield ! " said Snitchey, bowing low. 

" Returns ! " Craggs murmured in a deep voice, all alone. 

" Why, what a battery ! " exclaimed Alfred, stopping short, 
" and one two three all foreboders of no good, in the 
great sea before me. I am glad you are not the first I have 
met this morning : I should have taken it for a bad omen. 
But, Grace was the first sweet, pleasant Grace so I defy 
you all ! " 

" If you please, Mister, / was the first you know," said 
Clemency Newcome. " She was walking out here, before 
sunrise, you remember. I was in the house." 

" That's true ! Clemency was the first," said Alfred. " So 
I defy you with Clemency."" 

" Ha, ha, ha, for Self and Craggs," said Snitchey. " What 
a defiance ! " 

"Not so bad a one as it appears, may be," said Alfred, 
shaking hands heartily with the Doctor, and also with 
Snitchey and Craggs, and then looking round. " Where are 
the Good Heavens ! " 

With a start, productive for the moment of a closer 
partnership between Jonathan Snitchey and Thomas Craggs 
than the subsisting articles of agreement in that wise con- 
templated, he hastily betook himself to where the sisters 
stood together, and however, I needn't more particularly 
explain his manner of saluting Marion first, and Grace after- 
wards, than by hinting that Mr. Craggs may possibly have 
considered it " too easy." 

Perhaps to change the subject, Dr. Jeddler made a 
hasty move towards the breakfast, and they all sat down at 



THE PARTING BREAKFAST. 



327 



table. Grace presided ; but so discreetly stationed herself, 

as to cut off her sister and Alfred from the rest of the 

company. Snitchey and Craggs sat at opposite corners, with 

the blue bag 

between them 

for safety ; the 

Doctor took his 

usual position, 

opposite to -ffa&^f 

Grace. Cle- 

majcy hovered ii%S&L v v-: 

galvanical ly 

about the table, 

as waitress ; and 

the melancholy 

Britain, at 

another and a 

smaller board, 

acted as Grand 

Carver of a 

round of beef 

and a ham. 

"Meat?" said 
Britain, ap- 
proaching Mr. 
Snitchey, with 
the carving 
knife and fork 
in his hands, 
and throwing 
the question at 
him like a 
missile. 

" Certainly," returned the lawyer. 

" Do yon want any ? " to Craggs. 

" Lean and well done," replied that gentleman. 




328 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

Having executed these orders, and moderately supplied 
the Doctor (he seemed to know that nobody else wanted 
anything to eat), he lingered as near the Firm as he decently 
could, watching with an austere eye their disposition of the 
viands, and but once relaxing the severe expression of his face. 
This was on the occasion of Mr. Craggs, whose teeth were 
not of the best, partially choking, when he cried out with 
great animation, " I thought he was gone ! " 

"Now, Alfred," said the Doctor, "for a word or two of 
business, while we are yet at breakfast."" 

" While we are yet at breakfast,"" said Snitchey and Craggs, 
who seemed to have no present idea of leaving oft'. 

Although Alfred had not been breakfasting, and seemed 
to have quite enough business on his hands as it was, he 
respectfully answered : 

" If you please, sir."" 

*' If anything could be serious,' 1 ' 1 the Doctor began, " in 
such a "" 

" Farce as this, sir," hinted Alfred. 

" In such a farce as this," observed the Doctor, " it might 
be this recurrence, on the eve of separation, of a double 
birth-day, which is connected with many associations pleasant 
to us four, and with the recollection of a long and amicable 
intercourse. That's not to the purpose." 

" Ah ! yes, yes, Dr. Jeddler," said the young man. " It is 
to the purpose. Much to the purpose, as my heart 'bears 
witness this morning ; and as yours does too, I know, if you 
would let it speak. I leave your house to-day ; I cease to 
be your ward to-day ; we part with tender relations stretch- 
ing far behind us, that never can be exactly renewed, and 
with others dawning yet before us," he looked down at 
Marion beside him, "fraught with such considerations as I 
must not trust myself to speak of now. Come, come ! " he 
added, rallying his spirits and the Doctor at once, " there's 
a serious grain in this large foolish dust-heap, Doc-tor. Let 
us allow to-day, that there is One." 



ALFRED HEATHFIELD. 329 

" To-day ! " cried the Doctor. Hear him ! Ha, ha, ha ! 
Of all days in the foolish year. Why, on this day, the 
great battle was fought on this ground. On this ground 
where we now sit, where I saw my two girls dance this 
morning, where the fruit has just been gathered for our 
eating from these trees, the roots of which are struck in 
Men, not earth, so many lives were lost, that within my 
recollection, generations afterwards, a churchyard full of 
bones, and dust of bones, and chips of cloven skulls, has 
been dug up from underneath our feet here. Yet not a 
hundred people in that battle knew for what they fought, or 
why ; not a hundred of the inconsiderate rejoicers in the vic- 
tory, why they rejoiced. Not half a hundred people were the 
better for the gain or loss. Not half-a-dozen men agree to 
this hour on the cause or merits ; and nobody, in short, ever 
knew anything distinct about it, but the mourners of the slain. 
Serious, too ! " said the Doctor, laughing. " Such a system ! " 

"But, all this seems to me," said Alfred, "to be very 
serious.' 1 '' 

" Serious ! " cried the Doctor. " If you allowed such things 
to be serious, you must go mad, or die, or climb up to the 
top of a mountain, and turn hermit. 1 " 

" Besides so long ago," said Alfred. 

" Long ago ! " returned the Doctor. " Do you know what 
the world has been doing, ever since ? Do you know what 
else it has been doing ? 7 don't ! " 

" It has gone to law a little," observed Mr. Snitchey, 
stirring his tea. 

"Although the way out has been always made too easy, 1 " 
said his partner. 

"And you'll excuse my saying, Doctor," pursued Mr. 
Snitchey, "having been already put a thousand times in 
possession of my opinion, in the course of our discussions, 
that, in its having gone to law, and in its legal system 
altogether, I do observe a serious side now, really, a some- 
thing tangible, and with a purpose and intention in it " 



330 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

Clemency Newcome made an angular tumble against the 
table, occasioning a sounding clatter among the cups and 
saucers. 

" Heyday ! what's the matter there ? " exclaimed the Doctor. 

" It's this evil-inclined blue bag," said Clemency, " always 
tripping up somebody ! " 

"With a purpose and intention in it, I was saying,"" re- 
sumed Snitchey, "that commands respect. Life a farce, Dr. 
Jeddler? With law in it ?" 

The Doctor laughed, and looked at Alfred. 

" Granted, if you please, that war is foolish,' 11 said Snitchey. 
" There we agree. For example. Here's a smiling country,"" 
pointing it out with his fork, " once overrun by soldiers 
trespassers every man of 'em and laid waste by tire and 
sword. He, he, he ! The idea of any man exposing himself, 
voluntarily, to fire and sword ! Stupid, wasteful, positively 
ridiculous; you laugh at your fellow-creatures, you know, 
when you think of it ! But take this smiling country as it 
stands. Think of the laws appertaining to real property ; 
to the bequest and devise of real property ; to the mortgage 
and redemption of real property ; to leasehold, freehold, and 
copyhold estate ; think,"" said Mr. Snitchey, with such great 
emotion that he actually smacked his lips, " of the complicated 
laws relating to title and proof of title, with all the con- 
tradictory precedents and numerous acts of parliament con- 
nected with them ; think of the infinite number of ingenious 
and interminable chancery suits, to which this pleasant prospect 
may give rise ; and acknowledge, Dr. Jeddler, that there is a 
green spot in the scheme about us ! I believe," said Mr. 
Snitchey, looking at his partner, " that I speak for Self and 
Craggs?" 

Mr. Craggs having signified assent, Mr. Snitchey, some- 
what freshened by his recent eloquence, observed that he 
would take a little more beef and another cup of tea. 

" I don't stand up for life in general," he added, rubbing 
his hands and chuckling, " it's full of folly ; full of something 



INFIDELITY AND FAITH. 331 

worse. Professions of trust, and confidence, and unselfishness, 
and all that ! Bah, bah, bah ! We see what they're worth. 
But, you mustn't laugh at life ; you've got a game to play ; 
a very serious game indeed! Everybody's playing against 
you, you know, and you're playing against them. Oh ! it's a 
very interesting thing. There are deep moves upon the board. 
You must only laugh, Dr. Jeddler, when you win and then 
not much. He, he, he ! And then not much," repeated 
Snitchey, rolling his head and winking his eye, as if he would 
have added, " you may do this instead ! " 

" Well, Alfred ! " cried the Doctor, " what do you say now ? " 

" I say, sir," replied Alfred, " that the greatest favour you 
could do me, and yourself too, I am inclined to think, would 
be to try sometimes to forget this battle-field and others 
like it in that broader battle-field of Life, on which the sun 
looks every day." 

" Really, I'm afraid that wouldn't soften his opinions, Mr. 
Alfred," said Snitchey. " The combatants are very eager and 
very bitter in that same battle of Life. There's a great deal 
of cutting and slashing, and firing into people's heads from 
behind. There is terrible treading down, and trampling on. 
It is rather a bad business." 

"I believe, Mr. Snitchey," said Alfred, " there are quiet 
victories and struggles, great sacrifices of self, and noble acts 
of heroism, in it even in many of its apparent lightnesses 
and contradictions not the less difficult to achieve, because 
they have no earthly chronicle or audience done every day 
in nooks and corners, and in little households, and in men's 
and women's hearts any one of which might reconcile the 
sternest man to such a world, and fill him with belief and 
hope in it, though two-fourths of its people were at war, and 
another fourth at law ; and that's a bold word." 

Both the sisters listened keenly. 

" Well, well ! " said the Doctor, " I am too old to be con- 
verted, even by my friend Snitchey here, or my good spinster 
sister, Martha Jeddler; who had what she calls her domestic 



332 THE BATTLE OP LIFE. 

trials ages ago, and has led a sympathising life with all sorts 
of people ever since ; and who is so much of your opinion 
(only she's less reasonable and more obstinate, being a woman), 
that we can't agree, and seldom meet. I was born upon this 
battle-field. I began, as a boy, to have my thoughts directed 
to the real history of a battle-field. Sixty years have gone 
over my head, and I have never seen the Christian world, in- 
cluding Heaven knows how many loving mothers and good 
enough girls like mine here, anything but mad for a battle- 
field. The same contradictions prevail in everything. One 
must either laugh or cry at such stupendous inconsistencies ; 
and I prefer to laugh. 1 ' 

Britain, who had been paying the profoundest and most 
melancholy attention to each speaker in his turn, seemed 
suddenly to decide in favour of the same preference, if a deep 
sepulchral sound that escaped him might be construed into a 
demonstration of risibility. His face, however, was so perfectly 
unaffected by it, both before and afterwards, that although 
one or two of the breakfast party looked round as being 
startled by a mysterious noise, nobody connected the offender 
with it. 

Except his partner in attendance, Clemency Newcome ; who 
rousing him with one of those favourite joints, her elbows, 
inquired, in a reproachful whisper, what he laughed at. 
" Not you ! " said Britain. 
"Who then?" 

" Humanity," said Britain. " That's the joke ! " 
" What between master and them lawyers, he's getting more 
and more addle-headed everyday!" cried* Clemency, giving him 
a lunge with the other elbow, as a mental stimulant. "Do 
you know where you are ? Do you want to get warning ? " 

" I don't know anything," said Britain, with a leaden eye 
and an immovable visage. "I don't care for anything. I 
don't make out anything. I don't believe anything. And I 
don't want anything." 

Although this forlorn summary of his general condition 



LITTLE BRITAIN. 333 

may have been overcharged in an access of despondency, 
Benjamin Britain sometimes called Little Britain, to dis- 
tinguish him from Great; as we might say Young England, 
to express Old England with a decided difference had defined 
his real state more accurately than might be supposed. For, 
serving as a sort of man Miles to the Doctor's Friar Bacon, 
and listening day after day to innumerable orations addressed 
by the Doctor to various people, all tending to show that his 
very existence was at best a mistake and an absurdity, this 
unfortunate servitor had fallen, by degrees, into such an abyss 
of confused and contradictory suggestions from within and 
without, that Truth at the bottom of her well, was on the 
level surface as compared with Britain in the depths of his 
mystification. The only point he clearly comprehended, was, 
that the new element usually brought into these discussions 
by Snitchey and Craggs, never served to make them clearer, 
and always seemed to give the Doctor a species of advantage 
and confirmation. Therefore, he looked upon the Firm as 
one of the proximate causes of his state of mind, and held 
them in abhorrence accordingly. 

" But, this is not our business, Alfred," said the Doctor. 
" Ceasing to be my ward (as you have said) to-day ; and 
leaving us full to the brim of such learning as the Grammar 
School down here was able to give you, and your studies in 
London could add to that, and such practical knowledge as a 
dull old country Doctor like myself could graft upon both ; 
you are away, now, into the world. The first term of proba- 
tion appointed by your poor father, being over, away you go 
now, your own master, to fulfil his second desire. And long 
before your three years 1 tour among the foreign schools of 
medicine is finished, you'll have forgotten us. Lord, you'll 
forget us easily in six months ! " 

" If I do But you know better ; why should I speak to 
you ! " said Alfred, laughing. 

" I don't know anything of the sort," returned the Doctor. 
"What do you say, Marion?" 



334 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

Marion, trifling with her teacup, seemed to say but she 
didn't say it that he was welcome to forget, if he could. 
Grace pressed the blooming face against her cheek, and 
smiled. 

"I haven't been, I hope, a very unjust steward in the 
execution of my trust," pursued the Doctor ; " but I am to 
be, at any rate, formally discharged, and released, and what 
not this morning ; and here are our good friends Snitchey 
and Craggs, with a bagful of papers, and accounts, and 
documents, for the transfer of the balance of the trust fund 
to you (I wish it was a more difficult one to dispose of, 
Alfred, but you must get to be a great man and make it so), 
and other drolleries of that sort, which are to be signed, 
sealed, and delivered." 

" And duly witnessed as by law required," said Snitchey, 
pushing away his plate, and taking out the papers, which 
his partner proceeded to spread upon the table; "and Self 
and Craggs having been co-trustees with you, Doctor, in so 
far as the fund was concerned, we shall want your two 
servants to attest the signatures can you read, Mrs. New- 
come ? " 

" I an't married, Mister," said Clemency. 

" Oh ! I beg your pardon. I should think not," chuckled 
Snitchey, casting his eyes over her extraordinary figure. ^ 
" You can read ? " 

"A little," answered Clemency. 

" The marriage service, night and morning, eh ? " observed 
the lawyer, jocosely. 

"No," said Clemency. "Too hard. I only reads a 
thimble." 

" Read a thimble ! " echoed Snitchey. " What are you 
talking about, young woman ? " 

Clemency nodded. " And a nutmeg-grater." 

"Why, this is a lunatic! a subject for the Lord High 
Chancellor ! " said Snitchey, staring at her. 

-" If possessed of any property," stipulated Craggs. 



CLEMENCY'S THIMBLE. ;335 

Grace, however, interposing, explained that each of the 
articles in question bore an engraved motto, and so formed 
the pocket library of Clemency Newcome, who was not much 
given to the study of books. 

" Oh, that's it, is it, Miss Grace ! " said Snitchcy. 

"Yes, yes. Ha, ha, ha! I thought our friend was an 
idiot. She looks uncommonly like it," he muttered, with a 
supercilious glance. "And what does the thimble say, Mrs. 
Newcome ? " 

" I an't married, Mister," observed Clemency. 

"Well, Newcome. Will that do?" said the lawyer. 
" What does the thimble say, Newcome ? " 

How Clemency, before replying to this question, held one 
pocket open, and looked down into its yawning depths for 
the thimble which wasn't there, and how she then held an 
opposite pocket open, and seeming to descry it, like a pearl 
of great price, at the bottom, cleared away such intervening 
obstacles as a handkerchief, an end of wax candle, a flushed 
apple, an orange, a lucky penny, a cramp bone, a padlock, a 
pair of scissors in a sheath more expressively describable as 
promising young shears, a handful or so of loose beads, several 
balls of cotton, a needle-case, a cabinet collection of curl-papers, 
and a biscuit, all of which articles she entrusted individually 
and separately to Britain to hold, is of no consequence. 

Nor how, in her determination to grasp this pocket by the 
throat and keep it prisoner (for it had a tendency to swing, 
and twist itself round the nearest corner), she assumed and 
calmly maintained, an attitude apparently inconsistent with 
the human anatomy and the laws of gravity. It is enough 
that at last she triumphantly produced the thimble on her 
finger, and rattled the nutmeg-grater : the literature of both 
those trinkets being obviously in course of wearing out and 
wasting away, through excessive friction. 

" That's the thimble, is it, young woman ? " said Mr. 
Snitchey, diverting himself at her expense. " And what does 
the thimble say ? " 



336 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

" It says, 11 replied Clemency, reading slowly round as if it 
were a tower, " For-get and For-give. 11 

Snitchey and Craggs laughed heartily. " So new ! " said 
Snitchey. " So easy ! " said Craggs. " Such a knowledge of 
human nature in it ! " said Snitchey. " So applicable to the 
affairs of life ! " said Craggs. 

"And the nutmeg-grater? 11 inquired the head of the Firm. 

"The grater says, 11 returned Clemency, "Do as you - 
wold be done by. 1 ' 

"Do, or you'll be done brown, you mean, 11 said Mr. 
Snitchey. 

" I don't understand, 11 retorted Clemency, shaking her head 
vaguely. " I an"t no lawyer. 11 

" I am afraid that if she was, Doctor, 11 said Mr. Snitchey, 
turning to him suddenly, as if to anticipate any effect that 
might otherwise be consequent on this retort, " she'd find it 
to be the golden rule of half her clients. They are serious 
enough in that whimsical as your world is and lay the 
blame on us afterwards. We, in our profession, are little 
else than mirrors after all, Mr. Alfred ; but, we are generally 
consulted by angry and quarrelsome people who are not in 
their best looks, and it's rather hard to quarrel with us if we 
reflect unpleasant aspects. I think, 11 said Mr. Snitchey, "that 
I speak for Self and Craggs ? " 

"Decidedly, 11 said Craggs. 

" And so, if Mr. Britain will oblige us with a mouthful of 
ink, 11 said Mr. Snitchey, returning to the papers, " we'll sign, 
seal, and deliver as soon as possible, or the coach will be 
coming past before we know where we are. 1 ' 

If one might judge from his appearance, there was every 
probability of the coach coming past before Mr. Britain knew 
where he was ; for he stood in a state of abstraction, mentally 
balancing the Doctor against the lawyers, and the lawyers 
against the Doctor, and their clients against both, and en- 
gaged in feeble attempts to make the thimble and nutmeg- 
grater (a new idea to him) square with anybody's system of 



MR. BRITAIN* SIGNS HIS NAMF, :m 

philosophy ; and, in short, bewildering himself as much as 
ever his great namesake has done with theories and schools. 
But, Clemency, who was his good Genius though he had 
the meanest possible opinion of her understanding, by reason 
of her seldom troubling herself with abstract speculations, 
and being always at hand to do the right thing at the right 
time having produced the ink in a twinkling, tendered him 
the further service of recalling him to himself by the applica- 
tion of her elbows ; with which gentle flappers she so jogged 
his memory, in a more literal construction of that phrase 
than usual, that he soon became quite fresh and brisk. 

How he laboured under an apprehension not uncommon to 
persons in his degree, to whom the use of pen and ink is an 
event, that he couldn't append his name to a document, not 
of his own writing, without committing himself in some 
shadowy manner, or somehow signing away vague and 
enormous sums of money ; and how he approached the deeds 
under protest, and by dint of the Doctor's coercion, and in- 
sisted on pausing to look at them before writing (the cramped 
hand, to say nothing of the phraseology, being so much 
Chinese to him), and also on turning them round to see 
whether there was anything fraudulent underneath ; and how, 
having signed his name, he became desolate as one who had 
parted with his property and rights ; I want the time to tell. 
Also, how the blue bag containing his signature, afterwards 
had a mysterious interest for him, and he couldn't leave it ; 
also, how Clemency Newcome, in an ecstasy of laughter at the 
idea of her own importance and dignity, brooded over the 
whole table with her two elbows, like a spread eagle, and re- 
posed her head upon her left arm as /a preliminary to the 
formation of certain cabalistic characters, which required a 
deal of ink, and imaginary counterparts whereof she executed 
at the same time with her tongue. Also, how, having once 
tasted ink, she became thirsty in that regard, as tame tigers 
are said to be after tasting another sort of fluid, and wanted 
to sign everything, and put her name in all kinds of places. 

z 



338 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

In brief, the Doctor was discharged of his trust and all its 
responsibilities ; and Alfred, taking it on himself, was fairly 
started on the journey of life. 

" Britain ! " said the Doctor. " Run to the gate, and 
watch for the coach. Time flies, Alfred. 11 

" Yes, sir, yes," returned the young man, hurriedly. " Dear 
Grace ! a moment ! Marion so young and beautiful, so 
winning and so much admired, dear to my heart as nothing 
else in life is remember f I leave Marion to you ! " 

"She has always been a sacred charge to me, Alfred. 
She is doubly so, now. I will be faithful to my trust, 
believe me. 1 ' 

" I do believe it, Grace. I know it well. Who could look 
upon your face, and hear your voice, and not know it ! Ah, 
Grace! If I had your well-governed heart, and tranquil 
mind, how bravely I would leave this place to-day ! "" 

"Would you? 11 she answered with a quiet smile. 

" And yet, Grace Sister, seems the natural word. 11 

"Use it !" she said quickly. "I am glad to hear it. Call 
me nothing else. 11 

"And yet, sister, then, 11 said Alfred, "Marion and I had 
better have your true and steadfast qualities serving us here, 
and making us both happier and better. I wouldn't carry 
them away, to sustain myself, if I could ! " 

" Coach upon the hill-top ! " exclaimed Britain. 

"Time flies, Alfred, 11 said the Doctor. 

Marion had stood apart, with her eyes fixed upon the 
ground; but, this warning being given, her young lover 
brought her tenderly to where her sister stood, and gave her 
into her embrace. 

"I have been telling Grace, dear Marion, 11 he said, "that 
you are her charge; my precious trust at parting. And 
when I come back and reclaim you, dearest, and the bright 
prospect of our married life lies stretched before us, it shall 
be one of our chief pleasures to consult how we can make 
Grace happy ; how we can anticipate her wishes ; how we can 



MARION CO-ENTRUSTED TO GRACE. 339 

show our gratitude and love to her ; how we can return her 
something of the debt she will have heaped upon us." 

The younger sister had one hand in his ; the other rested 
on her sister's neck. She looked into that sister's eyes, so 
calm, serene, and cheerful, with a gaze in which affection, 
admiration, sorrow, wonder, almost veneration, were blended. 
She looked into that sister's face, as if it were the face of 
some bright angel. Calm, serene, and cheerful, the face 
looked back on her and on her lover. 

" And when the time comes, as it must one day,"" said 
Alfred, " I wonder it has never come yet, but Grace knows 
best, for Grace is always right when she will want a friend 
to open her whole heart to, and to be to her something of 
what she has been to us then, Marion, how faithful we 
will prove, and what delight to us to know that she, our 
dear good sister, loves and is loved again, as we would 
have her ! " 

Still the younger sister looked into her eyes, and turned 
not even towards him. And still those honest eyes looked 
back, so calm, serene, and cheerful, on herself and on her 
lover. 

"And when all that is past, and we are old, and living 
(as we must !) together close together talking often of old 
times,"" said Alfred "these shall be our favourite times 
among them this day most of all ; and, telling each other 
what we thought and felt, and hoped and feared at parting; 
and how we couldn't bear to say good bye " 

" Coach coming through the wood ! " cried Britain. 

" Yes ! I am ready and how we met again, so happily in 
spite of all ; well make this day the happiest in all the year, 
and keep it as a treble birth-day. Shall we, dear ? "' 

" Yes ! " interposed the elder sister, eagerly, and with a 
radiant smile. " Yes ! Alfred, don't linger. There's no 
time. Say good bye to Marion. And Heaven be with you ! " 

He pressed the younger sister to his heart. Released from 
his embrace, she again clung to her sister ; and her eyes, with 



340 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

the same blended look, again sought those so calm, serene, 
and cheerful. 

" Farewell, my boy ! " said the Doctor. " To talk about 
any serious correspondence or serious affections, and engage- 
ments and so forth, in such a ha ha ha! you know what 
I mean why that, of course, would be sheer nonsense. All I 
can say is, that if you and Marion should continue in the 
same foolish minds, I shall not object to have you for a 
son-in-law one of these days." 1 

" Over the bridge ! " cried Britain. 

" Let it come ! " said Alfred, wringing the Doctor's hand 
stoutly. " Think of me sometimes, my old friend and 
guardian, as seriously as you can ! Adieu, Mr. Snitchey ! 
Farewell, Mr. Craggs ! "" 

" Coming down the road ! " cried Britain. 

" A kiss of Clemency Newcome for long acquaintance" 1 sake ! 
Shake hands, Britain ! Marion, dearest heart, good bye ! 
Sister Grace ! remember ! " 

The quiet household figure, and the face so beautiful in 
its serenity, were turned towards him in reply ; but Marion's 
look and attitude remained unchanged. 

The coach was at the gate. There was a bustle with the 
luggage. The coach drove away.. Marion never moved. 

" He waves his hat to you, my love," said Grace. " Your 
chosen husband, darling. Look ! " 

The younger sister raised her head, and, for a moment, 
turned it. Then, turning back again, and fully meeting, 
for the first time, those calm eyes, fell sobbing on her neck. 

" Oh, Grace. God bless you ! But I cannot bear to see 
it, Grace ! It breaks my heart." 




MTCHEY AXD CRAGGS had a 

snug little office on the old Battle 
Ground, where they drove a snug 
little business, and fought a great 
many small pitched battles for a 
great many contending parties. 




Though it could hardly be said of these conflicts that they 
were running fights for in truth they generally proceeded 
at a snail's pace the part the Firm had in them came 



342 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

so far within the general denomination, that now they 
took a shot at this Plaintiff', and now aimed a chop at that 
Defendant, now made a heavy charge at an estate in 
Chancery, and now had some light skirmishing among an 
irregular body of small debtors, just as the occasion served, 
and & the enemy happened to present himself. The Gazette 
was an important and profitable feature in some of their 
fields, as in fields of greater renown ; and in most of the 
Actions wherein they showed their generalship, it was after- 
wards observed by the combatants that they had had great 
difficulty in making each other out, or in knowing with 
any degree of distinctness what they were about, in conse- 
quence of the vast amount of smoke by which they were 
surrounded. 

The offices of Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs stood convenient, 
with an open door down two smooth steps, in the market- 
place; so that any angry farmer inclining towards hot water, 
might tumble into it at once. Their special council-chamber 
and hall of conference was an old back-room up-stairs, with 
a low dark ceiling, which seemed to be knitting its brows 
gloomily in the consideration of tangled points of law. It 
was furnished with some high-backed leathern chairs, garnished 
with great goggle-eyed brass nails, of which, every here 
and there, two or three had fallen out or had been picked 
out, perhaps, by the wandering thumbs and forefingers of 
bewildered clients. There was a framed print of a great 
judge in it, every curl in whose dreadful wig had made a 
man's hair stand on end. Bales of papers filled the dusty 
closets, shelves, and tables; and round the wainscot there 
were tiers of boxes, padlocked and fireproof, with people's 
names painted outside, which anxious visitors felt them- 
selves, by a cruel enchantment, obliged to spell backwards 
and forwards, and to make anagrams of, while they sat, 
seeming to listen to Snitchey and Craggs, without compre- 
hending one word of what they said. 

Snitchey and Craggs had each, in private life as in 



SNITCHEY AND CRAGGS. 34U 

professional existence, a partner of his own. Snitchey and 
Craggs were the best friends in the world, and had a real 
confidence in one another ; but Mrs. Snitchey, by a dispen- 
sation not uncommon in the affairs of life, was on principle 
suspicious of Mr. Craggs; and Mrs. Craggs was on principle 
suspicious of Mr. Snitchey. "Your Snitcheys indeed," tin- 
latter lady would observe, sometimes, to Mr. Craggs; using 
that imaginative plural as if in disparagement of an objection- 
able pair of pantaloons, or other articles not possessed of a 
singular number; "I don't see what you want with your 
Snitcheys, for my part. You trust a great deal too much 
to your Snitcheys, / think, and I hope you may never find mv 
words come true. V) While Mrs. Snitchey would observe to 
Mr. Snitchey, of Craggs, "that if ever he was led away bv 
man he was led away by that man, and that if ever she read 
a double purpose in a mortal eye, she read that purpose in 
Craggs's eye." Notwithstanding this, however, they were all 
very good friends in general : and Mrs. Snitchey and Mi's. 
Craggs maintained a close bond of alliance against " the office," 
which they both considered the Blue chamber, and common 
enemy, full of dangerous (because unknown) machinations. 

In this office, nevertheless, Snitchey and Craggs made honev 
for their several hives. Here, sometimes, they would linger, 
of a fine evening, at the window of their council-chamber 
overlooking the old battle-ground, and wonder (but that was 
generally at assize time, when much business had made them 
sentimental) at the folly of mankind, who couldn't always 
be at peace with one another and go to law comfortably. 
Here, days, and weeks, and months, and years, passed over 
them: their calendar, the gradually diminishing number of 
brass nails in the leathern chairs, and the increasing bulk of 
papers on the tables. Here, nearly three years 1 flight had 
thinned the one and swelled the other, since the breakfast 
in the orchard; when they sat together in consultation e* 
night. 

Not alone; but, with a man of thirty, or about that 



344 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



time of life, negligently dressed, and somewhat haggard in 
the face, but well-made, well-attired, and well-looking, who 
sat in the arm-chair of state, with one hand in his breast, and 

the other in 
his dishevelled 
hair, ponder- 
ing moodily. 
Messrs. Snit- 
ch e y and 
Craggs sat 
opposite each 
other at a 
neighbouring 
desk. One of 
the fireproof 
boxes, unpad- 
lockcd and 
opened, was 
upon it ; a 
part of its 

contents lay strewn upon the table, and the rest 
was then in course of passing through the hands 
of Mr. Snitchey ; who brought it to the candle, 
document by document ; looked at every paper 
p singly, as he produced it ; shook his head, and 
ill handed it to Mr. Craggs ; who looked it over 
also, shook his head, and laid it 
down. Sometimes, they would 
stop, and shaking their heads 
in concert, look towards the 
abstracted client. And 
^rr_ the name on the box 
being Michael Warden, 
Esquire, we may conclude from these premises that the name 
and the box were both his, and that the affairs of Michael 
Warden, Esquire, were in a bad way. 



' 



MR. WARDEN. 345 

"That's all," said Mr. Snitchey, turning up the last paper. 
" Really there's no other resource. No other resource.' 1 

"All lost, spent, wasted, pawned, borrowed, and sold, eh ?" 
said the client, looking up. 

" All,' 1 returned Mr. Snitchey. 

" Nothing else to be done, you say ? " 

" Nothing at all." 

The client bit his nails, and pondered again. 

"And I am not even personally safe in England? You 
hold to that, do you ? " 

" In no part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and 
Ireland," replied Mr. Snitchey. 

"A mere prodigal son with no father to go back to, no 
swine to keep, and no husks to share with them ? Eh ? " 
pursued the client, rocking one leg over the other, and search- 
ing the ground with his eyes. 

Mr. Snitchey coughed, as if to deprecate the being supposed 
to participate in any figurative illustration of a legal position. 
Mr. Craggs, as if to express that it was a partnership view of 
the subject, also coughed. 

" Ruined at thirty ! " said the client. " Humph ! " 

"Not ruined, Mr. Warden," returned Snitchey. "Not so 
bad as that. You have done a good deal towards it, I must 
say, but you are not ruined. A little nursing " 

" A little Devil," said the client. 

" Mr. Craggs," said Snitchey, " will you oblige me with a 
pinch of snuff? Thank you, sir." 

As the imperturbable lawyer applied it to his nose with 
great apparent relish and a perfect absorption of his attention 
in the proceeding, the client gradually broke into a smile, 
and, looking up, said : 

" You talk of nursing. How long nursing ? " 

"How long nursing?" repeated Snitchey, dusting the snuff 
from his fingers, and making a slow calculation in his mind. 
"For your involved estate, sir? In good hands? S. and 
C.'s, say ? Six or seven years." 



346 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

" To starve for six or seven years ! " said the client with a 
fretful laugh, and an impatient change of his position. 

"To starve for six or seven years, Mr. Warden," said 
Snitchey, " would be very uncommon indeed. You might get 
another estate by showing yourself, the while. But, we don't 
think you could do it speaking for Self and Craggs and 
consequently don't advise it." 

" What do you advise ? " 

" Nursing, I say," repeated Snitchey. " Some few years of 
nursing by Self and Craggs would bring it round. But to 
enable us to make terms, and hold terms, and you to keep 
terms, you must go away ; you must live abroad. As to 
starvation, we could ensure you some hundreds a-year to 
starve upon, even in the beginning I dare say, Mr. Warden. " 
"Hundreds," said the client. "And I have spent 
thousands ! " 

" That," retorted Mr. Snitchey, putting the papers slowly 
back into the cast-iron box, "there is no doubt about. No 
doubt a bout," he repeated to himself, as he thoughtfully 
pursued his occupation. 

The lawyer very likely knew his man ; at any rate his dry, 
shrewd, whimsical manner, had a favourable influence on the 
client's moody state, and disposed him to be more free and 
unreserved. Or, perhaps the client knew his man, and had 
elicited such encouragement as he had received, to render 
some purpose he was about to disclose the more defensible 
in appearance. Gradually raising his head, he sat looking at 
his immovable adviser with a smile, which presently broke into 
a laugh. 

" After all," he said, " my iron-headed friend " 

Mr. Snitchey pointed out his partner. " Self and excuse 
me Craggs." 

"I beg Mr. Craggs's pardon," said the client. "After 
all, my iron-headed friends," he leaned forward in his chair, 
and dropped his voice a little, "you don't know half my 
ruin vet.'' 



MR. WARDEN IS IN LOVE. 347 

Mr. Snitchey stopped and stared at him. Mr. Craggs also 
stared. 

" I am not only deep in debt," said the client, " but I am 
deep in " 

" Not in love ! " cried Snitchey. 

"Yes!" said the client, falling back in his chair, and 
surveying the Firm with his hands in his pockets. "Deep 
in love." 

" And not with an heiress, sir ? " said Snitchey. 

"Not with an heiress." 

" Nor a rich lady ? " 

" Nor a rich lady that I know of except in beauty and 
merit." 

"A single lady, I trust?" said Mr. Snitchey, with great 
expression. 

" Certainly." 

" It's not one of Dr. .Toddler's daughters ? " said Snitchey, 
suddenly squaring his elbows on his knees, and advancing his 
face at least a yard. 

" Yes ! " returned the client. 

" Not his younger daughter ? " said Snitchey. 

" Yes ! " returned the client. 

" Mr. Craggs," said Snitchey, much relieved, " will you 
oblige me with another pinch of snuff? Thank you ! I am 
happy to say it don't signify, Mr. Warden ; she's engaged, 
sir, she's bespoke. My partner can corroborate me. We 
know the fact." 

"We know the fact," repeated Craggs. 

"Why, so do I perhaps," returned /the client quietly. 
" What of that ! Are you men of the world, and did you 
never hear of a woman changing her mind ? " 

"There certainly have been actions for breach," said Mr. 
Snitchey, "brought against both spinsters and widows, but, 
in the majority of cases " 

" Cases ! " interposed the client, impatiently. " Don't talk 
to me of cases. The general precedent is in a much larger 



348 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

volume than any of your law books. Besides, do you think I 
have lived six weeks in the Doctor's house for nothing ? " 

"I think, sir," observed Mr. Snitchey, gravely addressing 
himself to his partner, "that of all the scrapes Mr. Warden's 
horses have brought him into at one time and another 
and they have been pretty numerous, and pretty expensive, as 
none know better than himself, and you, and I the worst 
scrape may turn out to be, if he talks in this way, this having 
ever been left by one of them at the Doctor's garden wall, 
with three broken ribs, a snapped collar-bone, and the Lord 
knows how many bruises. We didn't think so much of it, 
at the time when we knew he was going on well under the 
Doctor's hands and roof; but it looks bad now, sir. Bad ? It 
looks very bad. Doctor Jeddler too our client, Mr. Craggs."' 

" Mr. Alfred Heathfield too a sort of client, Mr. Snitchey," 
said Craggs. 

" Mr. Michael Warden too, a kind of client," said the care- 
less visitor, " and no bad one either : having played the fool 
for ten or twelve years. However, Mr. Michael Warden has 
sown his wild oats now there's their crop, in that box ; and 
he means to repent and be wise. And in proof of it, Mr. 
Michael Warden means, if he can, to marry Marion, the 
Doctor's lovely daughter, and to carry her away with him." 

"Really, Mr. Craggs," Snitchey began. 

"Really, Mr. Snitchey, and Mr. Craggs, partners both,"' 
said the client, interrupting him ; " you know your duty to 
your clients, and you know well enough, I am sure, that it 
is no part of it to interfere in a mere love affair, which I am 
obliged to confide to you. I am not going to carry the 
young lady off, without her own consent. There's nothing 
illegal in it. I never was Mr. Heathfield's bosom friend. I 
violate no confidence of his. I love where he loves, and I 
mean to win where he would win, if I can." 

" He can't, Mr. Craggs," said Snitchey, evidently anxious 
and discomfited. "He can't do it, sir. She dotes on Mr. 
Alfred." 



MR. WARDEN'S INTENTIONS. 349 

" Docs she ? " returned the client. 

"Mr. Craggs, she dotes on him, sir," persisted Snitchey. 

"I didn't live six weeks, some few months ago, in the 
Doctor's house for nothing; and I doubted that soon/' 
observed the client. "She would have doted on him, if her 
sister could have brought it about; but I watched them. 
Marion avoided his name, avoided the subject : shrunk from 
the least allusion to it, with evident distress." 

"Why should she, Mr. Craggs, you know? Why should 
she, sir?" inquired Snitchey. 

" I don't know why she should, though there are many 
likely reasons," said the client, smiling at the attention and 
perplexity expressed in Mr. Snitchey's shining eye, and at his 
cautious way of carrying on the conversation, and making 
himself informed upon the subject; "but I know she does. 
She was very young when she made the engagement if it 
may be called one, I am not even sure of that and has 
repented of it, perhaps. Perhaps it seems a foppish thing 
to say, but upon my soul I don't mean it in that light 
she may have fallen in love with me, as I have fallen in love 
with her." 

" He, he ! Mr. Alfred, her old playfellow too, you re- 
member, Mr. Craggs," said Snitchey, with a disconcerted 
laugh ; " knew her almost from a baby ! " 

" Which makes it the more probable that she may be tired 
of his idea," calmly pursued the client, " and not indisposed to 
exchange it for the newer one of another lover, who presents 
himself (or is presented by his horse) under romantic circum- 
stances ; has the not unfavourable reputation with a country 
girl of having lived thoughtlessly and gaily, without doing 
much harm to anybody ; and who, for his youth and figure, 
and so forth this may seem foppish again, but upon my soul 
I don't mean it in that light might perhaps pass muster in 
a crowd with Mr. Alfred himself." 

There was no gainsaying the last clause, certainly ; and Mr. 
Snitchey, glancing at him, thought so. There was something 



350 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

naturally graceful and pleasant in the very carelessness of 
his air. It seemed to suggest, of his comely face and well- 
knit figure, that they might be greatly better if he chose : 
and that, once roused and made earnest (but he never had 
been earnest yet), he could be full of fire and purpose. " A 
dangerous sort of libertine," thought the shrewd lawyer, " to 
seem to catch the spark he wants, from a young lady's eyes."" 

"Now, observe, Snitchey," he continued, rising and taking 
him by the button, " and Craggs," taking him by the button 
also, and placing one partner on either side of him, so that 
neither might evade him. " I don't ask you for any advice. 
You are right to keep quite aloof from all parties in such a 
matter, which is not one in which grave men like you could 
interfere, on any side. I am briefly going to review in half- 
a-dozen words, my position and intention, and then I shall 
leave it to you to do the best for me, in money matters, that 
you can : seeing, that, if I run awav with the Doctor's beautiful 
daughter (as I hope to do, and to become another man under 
her bright influence), it will be, for the moment, more charge- 
able than running away alone. But I shall soon make all 
that up in an altered life." 

" I think it will be better not to hear this, Mr. Craggs ? " 
said Snitchey, looking at him across the client. 

" / think not," said Craggs. Both listened attentively. 

" Well ! You needn't hear it," replied their client. " I'll 
mention it, however. I don't mean to ask the Doctor's con- 
sent, because he wouldn't give it me. But I mean to do the 
Doctor no wrong or harm, because (besides there being nothing 
serious in such trifles, as he says) 1 hope to rescue his child, 
my Marion, from what I see I know she dreads, and con- 
templates with miser}' : that is, the return of this old lover. 
If anything in the world is true, it is true that she dreads 
his return. Nobody is injured so far. I am so harried and 
worried here just now, that I lead the life of a flying-fish. I 
skulk about in the dark, I am shut out of my 'own house, 
and warned off my own grounds ; but, that house, and those 



THIS DAY MONTH. 351 

grounds, and many an acre besides, will come back to me one 
day, as you know and say ; and Marion will probably be 
richer on your showing, who are never sanguine ten years 
hence as my wife, than as the wife of Alfred Heathfield, 
whose return she dreads (remember that), and in whom or in 
any man, my passion is not surpassed. Who is injured yet? 
It is a fair case throughout. My right is as good as his, if 
she decide in my favour ; and I will try my right by her 
alone. You will like to know no more after this, and I will 
tell you no more. Now you know my purpose, and wants. 
When must I leave here ? " 

" In a week, 11 said Snitchey. " Mr. Craggs ? " 

" In something less, I should say, 11 responded Craggs. 

" In a month," said the client, after attentively watching 
the two faces. "This day month. To-day is Thursday. 
Succeed or fail, on this day month I go. 11 

" Ifs too long a delay, 11 said Snitchey ; " much too long. 
But let it be so. I thought he'd have stipulated for three," 1 
he murmured to himself. " Are you going ? Good night, 
sir ! 11 

" Good night ! " returned the client, shaking hands with 
the Firm. " Youll live to see me making a good use of 
riches yet. Henceforth the star of my destiny is, Marion ! "" 

"Take care of the stairs, sir,"" replied Snitchey; "for she 
don't shine there. Good night ! " 

" Good night ! " 

So they both stood at the stair-head with a pair of office- 
candles, watching him down. When he had gone away, they 
stood looking at each other. 

" What do you think of all this, Mr. Craggs ?" said Snitchey. 

Mr. Craggs shook his head. 

" It was our opinion, on the day when that release was 
executed, that there was something curious in the parting of 
that pair, I recollect, 11 said Snitchey. 

' It was, 11 said Mr. Craggs. 

"Perhaps he deceives himself altogether," pursued Mr. 



352 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

Snitchey, locking up the fireproof box, and putting it away ; 
" or, if he don't, a little bit of fickleness and perfidy is not 
a miracle, Mr. Craggs. And yet I thought that pretty face 
was very true. I thought," said Mr. Snitchey, putting on 
his great-coat (for the weather was very cold), drawing on his 
gloves, and snuffing out one candle, " that I had even seen 
her character becoming stronger and more resolved of late. 
More like her sister's." 

" Mrs. Craggs was of the same opinion,"" returned Craggs. 

" Td really give a trifle to-night,"" observed Mr. Snitchey, 
who was a good-natured man, " if I could believe that Mr. 
Warden was reckoning without his host; but, light-headed, 
capricious, and unballasted as he is, he knows something of 
the world and its people (he ought to, for he has bought 
what he does know, dear enough) ; and I can't quite think 
that. We had better not interfere : we can do nothing, Mr. 
Craggs, but keep quiet." 

"Nothing," returned Craggs. 

" Our friend the Doctor makes light of such things," said 
Mr. Snitchey, shaking his head. " I hope he mayn't stand in 
need of his philosophy. Our friend Alfred talks of the battle 
of life," he shook his head again, " I hope he mayn't be cut 
down early in the day. Have you got your hat, Mr. Craggs ? 
I am going to put the other candle out." 

Mr. Craggs replying in the affirmative, Mr. Snitchey suited 
the action to the word, and they groped their way out of 
the council-chamber, now dark as the subject, or the law in 
general. 

My story passes to a quiet little study, where, on that same 
night, the sisters and the hale old Doctor sat by a cheerful 
fireside. Grace was working at her needle. Marion read 
aloud from a book before her. The Doctor, in his dressing- 
gown and slippers, with his feet spread out upon the warm 
rug, leaned back in his easy-chair, and listened to the book, 
and looked upon his daughters. 



IN THE DOCTOR'S STUDY. 853 

They were very beautiful to look upon. Two better faces 
for a fireside, never made a fireside bright and sacred. Some- 
thing of the difference between them had been softened down 
in three years'" time ; and enthroned upon the clear brow of 
the younger sister, looking through her eyes, and thrilling in 
her voice, was the same earnest nature that her own mother- 
less youth had ripened in the elder sister long ago. But she 
still appeared at once the lovelier and weaker of the two; 
still seemed to rest her head upon her sister's breast, and 
put her trust in her, and look into her eyes for counsel and 
reliance. Those loving eyes, so calm, serene, and cheerful, 
as of old. 

" ' And being in her own home,' * read Marion, from the 
book ; " ' her home made exquisitely dear by these remem- 
brances, she now began to know that the great trial of her 
heart must soon come on, and could not be delayed. () Home, 
our comforter and friend when others fall away, to part with 
whom, at any step between the cradle and the grave ' " 

" Marion, my love ! " said Grace. 

u Why, Puss ! " exclaimed her father, " what's the matter ': ^ 

She put her hand upon the hand her sister 'stretched 
towards her, and read on ; her voice still faltering and 
trembling, though she made- an effort to command it when 
thus interrupted. 

" ' To part with whom, at any step between the cradle and 
the grave, is always sorrowful. O Home, so true to us, so 
often slighted in return, be lenient to them that turn away 
from thee, and do not haunt their erring footsteps too re- 
proachfully ! Let no kind looks, no well-remembered smiles, 
be seen upon thy phantom face. Let no ray of affection, 
welcome, gentleness, forbearance, cordiality, shine from thy 
white head. Let no old loving word, or tone, rise up in 
judgment against thy deserter; but if thou canst look harshly 
and severely, do, in mercy to the Penitent ! ' " 

" Dear Marion, read no more to-night," said Grace for 
she was weeping. 



354 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

" I cannot, 1 '' she replied, and closed the book. " The words 
seem all on fire ! " 

The Doctor was amused at this ; and laughed as he patted 
her on the head. 

" What ! overcome by a story-book ! " said Doctor Jeddler. 
"Print and paper! Well, well, it's all one. It's as rational 
to make a serious matter of print and paper as of anything 
else. But, dry your eyes, love, dry your eyes. I dare say the 
heroine has got home again long ago, and made it up all 
round and if she hasn't, a real home is only four walls ; and a 
fictitious one, mere rags and ink. What's the matter now ? " 

"It's only me, Mister," said Clemency, putting in her head 
at the door. 

" And what's the matter with you ? " said the Doctor. 

" Oh, bless you, nothing an't the matter with me," returned 
Clemency and truly too, to judge from her well-soaped face, 
in which there gleamed as usual the very soul of good- 
humour, which, ungainly as she was, made her quite engaging. 
Abrasions on the elbows are not generally understood, it is 
true, to range within that class of personal charms called 
beauty-spots. But, it is better, going through the world, to 
have the arms chafed in that narrow passage, than the 
temper : and Clemency's was sound and whole as any beauty's 
in the land. 

"Nothing an't the matter with me," said Clemency, 
entering, " but come a little closer. Mister." 

The Doctor, in some astonishment, complied with this 
invitation. 

" You said I wasn't to give you one before them, you 
know," said Clemency. 

A novice in the family might have supposed, from her 
extraordinary ogling as she said it, as well as from a singular 
rapture or ecstasy which pervaded her elbows, as if she were 
embracing herself, that "one," in its most favourable inter- 
pretation, meant a chaste salute. Indeed the Doctor himself 
seemed alarmed, for the moment; but quickly regained his 



ALFRED COMING HOME. 355 

composure, as Clemency, having had recourse to both her 
pockets beginning with the right one, going away to the 
wrong one, and afterwards coming back to the right one 
again produced a letter from the Post-office. 

" Britain was riding by on a errand," she chuckled, handing 
it to the Doctor, " and see the mail come in, and waited for 
it. There's A. H. in the corner. Mr. Alfred's on his journey 
home, I bet. We shall have a wedding in the house there 
was two spoons in my saucer this morning. Oh Luck, how 
slow he opens it ! " 

All this she delivered, by way of soliloquy, gradually rising 
higher and higher on tiptoe, in her impatience to hear the 
news, and making a corkscrew of her apron, and a bottle of 
her mouth. At last, arriving at a climax of suspense, and 
seeing the Doctor still engaged in the perusal of the letter, 
she came down flat upon the soles of her feet again, and cast 
her apron, as a veil, over her head, in a mute despair, and 
inability to bear it any longer. 

" Here ! Girls ! " cried the Doctor. " I can't help it : I 
never could keep a secret in my life. There are not many 
secrets, indeed, worth being kept in such a well ! never mind 
that. Alfred's coming home, my deal's, directly."" 

" Directly ! " exclaimed Marion. 

"What ! The story-book is soon forgotten ! " said the 
Doctor, pinching her cheek. " I thought the news would dry 
those tears. Yes. * Let it be a surprise, 1 he says, here. But 
I can't let it be a surprise. He must have a welcome." 

" Directly ! " repeated Marion. 

" Why, perhaps not what your impatience calls * directly,' " 
returned the Doctor ; " but pretty soon too. Let us see. 
Let us see. To-day is Thursday, is it not? Then he 
promises to be here, this day month." 

" This day month ! " repeated Marion, softly. 

" A gay day and a holiday for us," said the cheerful voice 
of her sister Grace, kissing her in congratulation. " Long 
looked forward to, dearest, and come at last." 



356 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

She answered with a smile ; a mournful smile, but full of 
sisterly affection. As she looked in her sister's face, and 
listened to the quiet music of her voice, picturing the happi- 
ness of this return, her own face glowed with hope and joy. 

And with a something else ; a something shining more and 
more through all the rest of its expression ; for which I have 
no name. It was not exultation, triumph, proud enthusiasm. 
They are not so calmly shown. It was not love and grati- 
tude alone, though love and gratitude were part of it. It 
emanated from no sordid thought, for sordid thoughts do 
not light up the brow, and hover on the lips, and move the 
spirit like a fluttered light, until the sympathetic figure 
trembles. 

Dr. Jeddler, in spite of his system of philosophy which 
he was continually contradicting and denying in practice, but 
more famous philosophers have done that could not help 
having as much interest in the return of his old ward and 
pupil as if it had been a serious event. So he sat himself 
down in his easy-chair again, stretched out his slippered feet 
once more upon the rug, read the letter over and over a 
great many times, and talked it over more times still. 

" Ah ! The day was," said the Doctor, looking at the fire, 
"when you and he, Grace, used to trot about arm-in-arm, 
in his holiday time, like a couple of walking dolls. 'You 
remember ? " 

"I remember," she answered, with her pleasant laugh, and 
plying her needle busily. 

"This day month, indeed!" mused the Doctor. "That 
hardly seems a twelvemonth ago. And where was my little 
Marion then ! " 

"Never far from her sister," said Marion, cheerily, "how- 
ever little. Grace was everything to me, even when she was 
a young child herself." 

"True, Puss, true," returned the Doctor. "She was a 
staid little woman, was Grace, and a wise housekeeper, and a 
busy, quiet, pleasant body; bearing with our humours and 



A TRUST NOBLY DISCHARGED. 357 

anticipating our wishes, and always ready to forget her own, 
even in those times. I never knew you positive or obstinate, 
Grace, my darling, even then, on any subject but one." 1 

"I am afraid I have changed sadly for the worse, since," 
laughed Grace, still busy at her work. "What was that 
one, father?" 

" Alfred, of course," said the Doctor. " Nothing would 
serve you but you must be called Alfred's wife ; so we called 
you Alfred's wife ; and you liked it better, I believe (odd as 
it seems now), than being called a Duchess, if we could have 
made you one. 11 

"Indeed? 11 said Grace, placidly. 

" Why, don't you remember ? " inquired the Doctor. 

" I think I remember something of it," she returned, " but 
not much. It's so long ago. 11 And as she sat at work, she 
hummed the burden of an old song, which the Doctor liked. 

"Alfred will find a real wife soon," she said, breaking oft'; 
"and that will be a happy time indeed for all of us. My 
three years 1 trust is nearly at an end, Marion. It has been 
a very easy one. I shall tell Alfred, when I give you back 
to him, that you have loved him dearly all the time, and 
that he has never once needed my good services. May I tell 
him so, love ? " 

" Tell him, dear Grace," replied Marion, " that there never 
was a trust so generously, nobly, steadfastly discharged ; and 
that I have loved you, all the time, dearer and dearer every 
day ; and O ! how dearly now ! " 

" Nay," said her cheerful sister, returning her embrace, " I 
can scarcely tell him that; we will leave my deserts to 
Alfred's imagination. It will be liberal enough, dear Marion ; 
like your own." 

With that, she resumed the work she had for a moment 
laid down, when her sister spoke so fervently: and with it 
the old song the Doctor liked to hear. And the Doctor, 
still reposing in his easy-chair, with his slippered feet 
stretched out before him on the rug, listened to the tune. 



358 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

and beat time on his knee with Alfred's letter, and looked at 
his two daughters, and thought that among the many trifles 
of the trifling world, these trifles were agreeable enough. 

Clemency Newcome, in the meantime, having accomplished 
her mission and lingered in the room until she had made 
herself a party to the news, descended to the kitchen, where 
her coadjutor, Mr. Britain, was regaling after supper, sur- 
rounded by such a plentiful collection of bright pot-lids, 
well-scoured saucepans, burnished dinner-covers, gleaming 
kettles, and other tokens of her industrious habits, arranged 
upon the walls and shelves, that he sat as in the centre of a 
hall of mirrors. The majority did not give forth very flatter- 
ing portraits of him, certainly ; nor were they by any means 
unanimous in their reflections ; as some made him very long- 
faced, others very broad-faced, some tolerably well-looking, 
others vastly ill-looking, according to their several manners 
of reflecting : which were as various, in respect of one fact, 
as those of so many kinds of men. But they all agreed that 
in the midst of them sat, quite at his ease, an individual 
with a pipe in his mouth, and a jug of beer at his elbow, 
who nodded condescendingly to Clemency, when she stationed 
herself at the same table. 

"Well, Clemmy," said Britain, "how are you by this 
time, and what's the news ? " 

Clemency told him the news, which he received very 
graciously. A gracious change had come over Benjamin 
from head to foot. He was much broader, much redder, 
much more cheerful, and much jollier in all respects. It 
seemed as if his face had been tied up in a knot before, and 
was now untwisted and smoothed out. 

"There'll be another job for Snitchey and Craggs, I 
suppose," he observed, puffing slowly at his pipe. "More 
witnessing for you and me, perhaps, Clemmy ! " 

" Lor ! " replied his fair companion, with her favourite twist 
of her favourite joints. " I wish it was me, Britain ! " 

" Wish what was vou ? " 



CLEMENCY AND MR. BRITAIN. 359 

" A-going to be married, 1 " said Clemency. 

Benjamin took his pipe out of his mouth and laughed 
heartily. "Yes! you're a likely subject for that!" he said. 
" Poor Clem ! " Clemency for her part laughed as heartily 
as he, and seemed as much amused by the idea. " Yes," 1 
she assented, "Tin a likely subject for that; an't I?" 

" 1WJI never be married, you know," said Mr. Britain, 
resuming his pipe. 

"Don't you think I ever shall though?" said Clemency, in 
perfect good faith. 

Mr. Britain shook his head. " Not a chance of it ! " 

"Only think!" said Clemency. " Well ! I suppose you 
mean to, Britain, one of these days ; don't you ? " 

A question so abrupt, upon a subject so momentous, re- 
quired consideration. After blowing out a great cloud of 
smoke, and looking at it with his head now on this side and 
now on that, as if it were actually the question, and he were 
surveying it in various aspects, Mr. Britain replied that he 
wasn't altogether clear about it, but ye-es he thought he 
might come to that at last. 

" I wish her joy, whoever she may be !" cried Clemency. 

" Oh shell have that," said Benjamin, " safe enough." 

" But she wouldn't have led quite such a joyful life as she 
will lead, and wouldn't have had quite such a sociable sort of 
husband as she will have," said Clemency, spreading herself 
half over the table, and staring retrospectively at the candle, 
" if it hadn't been for not that I went to do it, for it was 
accidental, I am sure if it hadn't been for me ; now would 
she, Britain ? " 

" Certainly not," returned Mr. Britain, by this time in 
that high state of appreciation of his pipe, when a man can 
open his mouth but a very little way for speaking purposes ; 
and sitting luxuriously immovable in his chair, can afford to 
turn only his eyes towards a companion, and that very 
passively and gravely. " Oh ! I'm greatly beholden to you, 
you know, Clem." 



360 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

" Lor, how nice that is to think of ! " said Clemency. 

At the same time, bringing her thoughts as well as her 
sight to bear upon the candle-grease, and becoming abruptly 
reminiscent of its healing qualities as a balsam, she anointed 
her left elbow with a plentiful application of that remedy. 

" You see IVe made a good many investigations of one 
sort and another in my time," pursued Mr. Britain, with the 
profundity of a sage, "having been always of an inquiring 
turn of mind ; and IVe read a good many books about the 
general Rights of things and Wrongs of things, for I went 
into the literary line myself, when I began life."" 

" Did you though ! " cried the admiring Clemency. 

" Yes," said Mr. Britain : " I was hid for the best part of 
two years behind a bookstall, ready to fly out if anybody 
pocketed a volume; and after that, I was light porter to a 
stay and mantua maker, in which capacity I was employed 
to carry about, in oilskin baskets, nothing but deceptions 
which soured my spirits and disturbed my confidence in 
human nature ; and after that, I heard a world of discussions 
in this house, which soured my spirits fresh ; and my opinion 
after all is, that, as a safe and comfortable sweetener of the 
same, and as a pleasant guide through life, there's nothing 
like a nutmeg-grater." 

Clemency was about to offer a suggestion, but he stopped 
her by anticipating it. 

" Com-bined," he added gravely, " with a thimble." 

" Do as you wold, you know, and cetrer, eh ! " observed 
Clemency, folding her arms comfortably in her delight at 
this avowal, and patting her elbows. '"Such a short cut, 
an't it?" 

" I'm not sure," said Mr. Britain, " that it's what would 
be considered good philosophy. I've my doubts about that ; 
but it wears well, and saves a quantity of snarling, which 
the genuine article don't always." 

" See how you used to go on once, yourself, you know ! " 
said Clemency. 



A CURIOUS NOISE! .'361 

" Ah ! " said Mr. Britain. " But the most extraordinary 
thing, Clemmy, is that I should live to be brought round, 
through you. That's the strange part of it. Through 
you ! Why, I suppose you haven't so much as half an idea 
in your head. 1 ' 

Clemency, without taking the least offence, shook it, and 
laughed, and hugged herself, and said, "No, she didn't 
suppose she had." 

" I'm pretty sure of it," said Mr. Britain. 

" Oh ! I dare say youVe right," said Clemency. " I don't 
pretend to none. I don't want any." 

Benjamin took his pipe from his lips, and laughed till the 
tears ran down his face. " What a natural you are, Clemmy ! "" 
he said, shaking his head, with an infinite relish of the joke, 
and wiping his eyes. Clemency, without the smallest inclina- 
tion to dispute it, did the like, and laughed as heartily as he. 

"I can't help liking you," said Mr. Britain; "you're a 
regular good creature in your way, so shake hands, Clem. 
Whatever happens, I'll always take notice of you, and be a 
friend to you." 

"Will you?" returned Clemency. "Well! that's very 
good of you.'" 

" Yes, yes," said Mr. Britain, giving her his pipe to knock 
the ashes out of it ; " I'll stand by you. Hark ! That's a 
curious noise ! " 

" Noise ! " repeated Clemency. 

"A footstep outside. Somebody dropping from the wall, 
it sounded like," said Britain. "Are they all abed up- 
stairs ? " 

"Yes, all abed by this time," she replied. 

" Didn't you hear anything ? " 

"No." 

They both listened, but heard nothing. 

" I tell you what," said Benjamin, taking down a lantern. 
" I'll have a look round, before I go to bed myself, for satis- 
faction's sake. Undo the door while I light this, Clemmy." 



362 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

Clemency complied briskly ; but observed as she did so, 
that he would only have his walk for his pains, that it was 
all his fancy, and so forth. Mr. Britain said "very likely; 11 
but sallied out, nevertheless, armed with the poker, and 
casting the light of the lantern far and near in all 
directions. 

"It's as quiet as a churchyard," said Clemency, looking 
after him ; " and almost as ghostly too ! " 

Glancing back into the kitchen, she cried fearfully, as a 
light figure stole into her view, "What's that!" 

" Hush ! " said Marion in an agitated whisper. " You have 
always loved me, have you not ! " 

" Loved you, child ! You may be sure I have." 

" I am sure. And I may trust you, may I not ? There is 
no one else just now, in whom I can trust." 

"Yes," said Clemency, with all her heart. 

"There is some one out there," pointing to the door, 
"whom I must see, and speak with, to-night. Michael 
\Varden, for God's sake retire ! Not now ! " 

Clemency started with surprise and trouble as, following 
the direction of the speaker's eyes, she saw a dark figure 
standing in the doorway. 

"In another moment you may be discovered," said Marion. 
" Not now ! Wait, if you can, in some concealment. I will 
come presently." 

He waved his hand to her, and was gone. 

"Don't go to bed. Wait here for me!" said Marion, 
hurriedly. "I have been seeking to speak to you for an 
hour past. Oh, be true to me ! " 

Eagerly seizing her bewildered hand, and pressing it with 
both her own to her breast an action more expressive, in its 
passion of entreaty, than the most eloquent appeal in words, 
Marion withdrew; as the light of the returning lantern 
flashed into the room. 

"All still and peaceable. Nobody there. Fancy, I sup- 
pose," said Mr. Britain, as he locked and barred the door. 



MARION RETURNS. ;jftj 

" One of the effects of having a lively imagination. Halloa ! 
Why, what's the matter?" 

Clemency, who could not conceal the effects of her surprise 
and concern, was sitting in a chair : pale, and trembling from 
head to foot. 

"Matter!" she repeated, chafing her hands and elbows, 
nervously, and looking anywhere but at him. " That's good 
in you, Britain, that is ! After going and frightening one 
out of one's life with noises and lanterns, and I don't know 
what all. Matter ! Oh, yes ! " 

"If you're frightened out of your life by a lantern, 
Clemmy," said Mr. Britain, composedly blowing it out and 
hanging^t up again, " that apparition's very soon got rid of. 
But you're as bold as brass in general," he said, stopping to 
observe her ; " and were, after the noise and the lantern too. 
What have you taken into your head ? Not an idea, eh ? " 

But, as Clemency bade him good night very much after 
her usual fashion, and began to bustle about with a show of 
going to bed herself immediately, Little Britain, after giving 
utterance to the original remark that it was impossible to 
account for a woman's whims, bade her good night in return, 
and taking up his candle strolled drowsily away to bed. 

When all was quiet, Marion returned. 

" Open the door," she said ; " and stand there close beside 
me, while I speak to him, outside." 

Timid as her manner was, it still evinced a resolute and 
settled purpose, such as Clemency could not resist. She softly 
unbarred the door : but before turning the key, looked round 
on the young creature waiting to issue forth when she should 
open it. 

The face was not averted or cast down, but looking full 
upon her, in its pride of youth and beauty. Some simple sense 
of the slightness of the barrier that interposed itself between 
the happy home and honoured love of the fair girl, and what 
might be the desolation of that home, and shipwreck of its 
dearest treasure, smote so keenly on the tender heart of 



364 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

Clemency, and so filled it to overflowing with sorrow and 
compassion, that, bursting into tears, she threw her arms 
round Marion's neck. 

" It's little that I know, my dear," cried Clemency, " very 
little; but I know that this should not be. Think of what 
you do ! " 

" I have thought of it many times," said Marion, gently. 

"Once more," urged Clemency. "Till to-morrow. 
Marion shook her head. 

" For Mr. Alfred's sake," said Clemency, with homely 
earnestness. " Him that you used to love so dearly, once ! " 

She hid her face, upon the instant, in her hands, repeating 
" Once ! " as if it rent her heart. 

"Let me go out," said Clemency, soothing her. "Til tell 
him what you like. Don't cross the door-step to-night. Ym 
sure no good will come of it. Oh, it was an unhappy day 
when Mr. Warden was ever brought here ! Think of your 
good father, darling of your sister." 

" I have," said Marion, hastily raising her head. " You 
don't know what I do. I miist speak to him. You are the 
best and truest friend in all the world for what you have 
said to me, but I must take this step. Will you go with 
me, Clemency," she kissed her on her friendly face, " or shall 
I go alone ? " 

Sorrowing and wondering, Clemency turned the key, and 
opened the door. Into the dark and doubtful night that lay 
beyond the threshold, Marion passed quickly, holding by her 
hand. 

In the dark night he joined her, and they spoke together 
earnestly and long; and the hand that held so fast by 
Clemency's, now trembled, now turned deadly cold, now 
clasped and closed on hers, in the strong feeling of the 
speech it emphasised unconsciously. When they returned, he 
followed to the door, and pausing there a moment, seized the 
other hand, and pressed it to his lips. Then, stealthily 
withdrew. 



THE SECRET INTERVIEW. 



365 



The door was barred and locked again, and once again she 
stood beneath her father's roof. Not bowed down by the secret 
that she brought there, though so young ; but, with that same 
expression on her face for which I had no name 
before, and shining through her tears. 
Again she thanked and thanked 
her humble friend, and trusted to 
her, as she said, with confidence, 
implicitly. Her chamber safely 
reached, she fell upon her knees ; 
and with her secret weighing on 
her heart, could pray ! 

Could rise up from her 
prayers, so tran- 
quil and serene, 
and bending 
over her fond 
sister in her 
slumber, look 
upon her face 
and smile 

though sadly : 

murmuring as 

she kissed her 

forehead, how 

that Grace had 

been a mother 

to her, ever, and 

she loved her 

as a child ! 
Could draw 

the passive arm 

about her neck 

when lying down to rest it seemed to cling there, of its own 

will, protectingly and tenderly even in sleep and breathe 

upon the parted lips, God bless her ! 




JJ66 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

Could sink into a peaceful sleep, herself ; but for one dream, 
in which she cried out, in her innocent and touching voice, 
that she was quite alone, and they had all forgotten her. 

A month soon passes, even at its tardiest pace. The month 
appointed to elapse between that night and the return, was 
quick of foot, and went by, like a vapour. 

The day arrived. A raging winter day, that shook the 
old house, sometimes, as if it shivered in the blast. A day 
to make home doubly home. To give the chimney-corner 
new delights. To shed a ruddier glow upon the faces gathered 
round the hearth, and draw each fireside group into a closer 
and more social league, against the roaring elements without. 
Such a wild winter day as best prepares the way for shut-out 
night ; for curtained rooms, and cheerful looks ; for music, 
laughter, dancing, light, and jovial entertainment ! 

All these the Doctor had in store to welcome Alfred back. 
They knew that he could not arrive till night; and they 
would make the night air ring, he said, as he approached. 
All his old friends should congregate about him. He should 
not miss a face that he had known and liked. No ! They 
should every one be there ! 

So, guests were bidden, and musicians were engaged, and 
tables spread, and floors prepared for active feet, and bountiful 
provision made, of every hospitable kind. Because it was 
the Christmas season, and his eyes were all unused to 
English holly and its sturdy green, the dancing-room was 
garlanded and hung with it ; and the red berries gleamed 
an English welcome to him, peeping from among the 
leaves. 

It was a busy day for all of them : a busier day for 
none of them than Grace, who noiselessly presided every- 
where, and was the cheerful mind of all the preparations. 
Many a time that day (as well as many a time within the 
fleeting month preceding it), did Clemency glance anxiously, 
and almost fearfully, at Marion. She saw her paler, perhaps, 



"THIS DAY MONTH" IS COME. 367 

than usual ; but there was a sweet composure on her face 
that made it lovelier than ever. 

At night when she was dressed, and wore upon her head 
a wreath that Grace had proudly twined about it its mimic 
flowers were Alfred's favourites, as Grace remembered when 
she chose them that old expression, pensive, almost sorrow- 
ful, and yet so spiritual, high, and stirring, sat again upon 
her brow, enhanced a hundred-fold. 

" The next wreath I adjust on this fair head, will be a mar- 
riage wreath,' 1 said Grace ; " or I am no true prophet, dear." 

Her sister smiled, and held her in her arms. 

" A moment, Grace. Don't leave me yet. Are you sure 
that I want nothing more ? " 

Her care was not for that. It was her sister's face she 
thought of, and her eyes were fixed upon it, tenderly. 

" My art," said Grace, " can go no farther, dear girl ; nor 
your beauty. I never saw you look so beautiful as now." 

" I never was so happy," she returned. 

" Ay, but there is a greater happiness in store. In such 
another home, as cheerful and as bright as this looks now," 
said Grace, " Alfred and his young wife will soon be living." 

She smiled again. " It is a happy home, Grace, in your 
fancy. I can see it in your eyes. I know it KV// be happy, 
dear. How glad I am to know it." 

" Well," cried the Doctor, bustling in. " Here we are, 
all ready for Alfred, eh ? He can't be here until pretty late 
an hour or so before midnight so there'll be plenty of 
time for making merry before he comes. He'll not find us 
with the ice unbroken. Pile up the fire here, Britain ! Let 
it shine upon the holly till it winks again. It's a world of 
nonsense, Puss ; true lovers and all the rest of it all non- 
sense ; but we'll be nonsensical with the rest of 'em, and give 
our true lover a mad welcome. Upon my word ! " said the 
old Doctor, looking at his daughters proudly, " I'm not clear 
to-night, among other absurdities, but that I'm the father 
of two handsome girls." 



368 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

" All that one of them has ever done, or may do may do, 
dearest father to cause you pain or grief, forgive her," 
said Marion, " forgive her now, when her heart is full. Say 
that you forgive her. That you will forgive her. That she 
shall always share your love, and ," and the rest was not 
said, for her face was hidden on the old man's shoulder. 

" Tut, tut, tut," said the Doctor gently. " Forgive ! What 
have I to forgive ? Heyday, if our true lovers come back 
to flurry us like this, we must hold 'em at a distance ; we 
must send expresses out to stop 'em short upon the road, 
and bring 'em on a mile or two a day, until we're properly 
prepared to meet 'em. Kiss me, Puss. Forgive ! Why, what 
a silly child you are ! If you had vexed and crossed me fifty 
times a day, instead of not at all, I'd forgive you everything, 
but such a supplication. Kiss me again, Puss. There ! 
Prospective and retrospective a clear score between us. Pile 
up the fire here ! Would you freeze the people on this bleak 
December night ! Let us be light, and warm, and merry, 
or I'll not forgive some of you ! " 

So gaily the old Doctor carried, it ! And the fire was 
piled up, and the lights were bright, and company arrived, 
and a murmuring of lively tongues began, and already there 
was a pleasant air of cheerful excitement stirring through 
all the house. 

More and more company came nocking in. Bright eyes 
sparkled upon Marion ; smiling lips gave her joy of his 
return ; sage mothers fanned themselves, and hoped she 
mightn't be too youthful and inconstant for the quiet round 
of home ; impetuous fathers fell into disgrace for too much 
exaltation of her beauty ; daughters envied her ; sons envied 
him ; innumerable pairs of lovers profited by the occasion ; 
all were interested, animated, and expectant. 

Mr. and Mrs. Craggs came arm in arm, but Mrs. Snitchey 
came alone. "Why, what's become of him?" inquired the 
Doctor. 

The feather of a Bird of Paradise in Mrs. Snitchey's 



MARION NOT MISSING. 369 

turban, trembled as if the Bird of Paradise were alive again, 
when she said that doubtless Mr. Craggs knew. She was 
never told. 

" That nasty office, 1 ' said Mrs. Craggs. 

" I wish it was burnt down," said Mrs. Snitchey. 

" He's he's there's a little matter of business that keeps 
my partner rather late, 11 said Mr. Craggs, looking uneasily 
about him. 

" Oh h ! Business. Don't tell me ! " said Mrs. Snitchey. 

" We know what business means, 11 said Mrs. Craggs. 

But their not knowing what it meant, was perhaps the 
reason why Mrs. Snitchey's Bird of Paradise feather quivered 
so portentously, and why all the pendant bits on Mrs. 
Craggs's ear-rings shook like little bells. 

" I wonder you could come away, Mr. Craggs,' 1 said 
his wife. 

" Mr. Craggs is fortunate, I'm sure ! " said Mrs. Snitchey. 

"That office so engrosses ^m," said Mrs. Craggs. 

"A person with an office has no business to be married at 
all, 11 said Mrs. Snitchey. 

Then, Mrs. Snitchey said, within herself, that that look of 
hers had pierced to Craggs's soul, and he knew it ; and Mrs. 
Craggs observed to Craggs, that " his Snitchey s " were deceiving 
him behind his back, and he would find it out when it was 
too late. 

Still, Mr. Craggs, without much heeding these remarks, 
looked uneasily about until his eye rested on Grace, to whom 
he immediately presented himself. 

" Good evening, ma'am, 11 said Craggs. " You look charm- 
ingly. Your Miss your sister, Miss Marion, is she " 

" Oh, she's quite well, Mr. Craggs. 11 

Yes I is she here ? " asked Craggs. 

" Here ! Don't you see her yonder ? Going to dance ? " 
said Grace. 

Mr. Craggs put on his spectacles to see the better; looked 
at her through them, for some time ; coughed ; and put them, 



370 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

with an air of satisfaction, in their sheath again, and in his 
pocket. 

Now the music struck up, and the dance commenced. The 
bright fire crackled and sparkled, rose and fell, as though it 
joined the dance itself, in right good fellowship. Sometimes, 
it roared as if it would make music too. Sometimes, it 
flashed and beamed as if it were the eye of the old room : it 
winked too, sometimes, like a knowing patriarch, upon the 
youthful whisperers in corners. Sometimes, it sported with 
the holly-boughs; and, shining on the leaves by fits and 
starts, made them look as if they were in the cold winter 
night again, and fluttering in the wind. Sometimes its genial 
humour grew obstreperous, and passed all bounds ; and then 
it cast into the room, among the twinkling feet, with a loud 
burst, a shower of harmless little sparks, and in its exulta- 
tion leaped and bounded, like a mad thing, up the broad old 
chimney. 

Another dance was near its close, when Mr. Snitchey 
touched his partner, who was looking on, upon the arm. 

Mr. Craggs started, as if his familiar had been a spectre. 

"Is he gone? 11 he asked. 

" Hush ! He has been with me," said Snitchey, " for three 
hours and more. He went over everything. He looked into 
all our arrangements for him, and was very particular indeed. 
He Humph ! " 

The dance was finished. Marion passed close before him, 
as he spoke. She did not observe him, or his partner ; but, 
looked over her shoulder towards her sister in the distance, 
as she slowly made her way into the crowd, and passed out 
of their view. 

"You see! All safe and well," said Mr. Craggs. "He 
didn't recur to that subject, I suppose?" 

"Not a word." 

" And is he really gone ? Is he safe away ? " 

" He keeps to his word. He drops down the river with 
the tide in that shell of a boat of his, and so goes out to sea 



THE ENEMY OF DOMESTIC PEACE. 371 

on this dark night ! a dare-devil he is before the wind. 
There's no such lonely road anywhere else. That's one 
thing-. The tide flows, he says, an hour before midnight 
about this time. I'm glad it's over." Mr. Snitchey wiped 
his forehead, which looked hot and anxious. 

" What do you think," said Mr. Craggs, " about " 

"Hush!" replied his cautious partner, looking straight 
before him. "I understand you. Don't mention names, and 
don't let us seem to be talking secrets. I don't know what 
to think ; and to tell you the truth, I don't care now. It's 
a great relief. His self-love deceived him, I suppose. Perhaps 
the young lady coquetted a little. The evidence would seem 
to point that way. Alfred not arrived ? " 

" Not yet," said Mr. Craggs. " Expected every minute." 

" Good." Mr. Snitchey wiped his forehead again. " It's a 
great relief. I haven't been so nervous since we've been in 
partnership. I intend to spend the evening now, Mr. Craggs." 

Mrs. Craggs and Mrs. Snitchey joined them as he announced 
this intention. The Bird of Paradise was in a state of 
extreme vibration, and the little bells were ringing quite 
audibly. 

" It has been the theme of general comment, Mr. Snitchey," 
said Mrs. Snitchey. " I hope the office is satisfied." 

"Satisfied with what, my dear?" asked Mr. Snitchey. 

"With the exposure of a defenceless woman to ridicule 
and remark," returned his wife. "That is quite in the way 
of the office, that is." 

" I really, myself," said Mrs. Craggs, " have been so long 
accustomed to connect the office with everything opposed to 
domesticity, that I am glad to know it as the avowed enemy 
of my peace. There is something honest in that, at all 
events." 

" My dear," urged Mr. Craggs, " your good opinion is in- 
valuable, but / never avowed that the office was the enemy 
of your peace." 

"No," said Mrs. Craggs, ringing a perfect peal upon the 



372 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

little bells. "Not you, indeed. You wouldn't be worthy of 
the office, if you had the candour to. 11 

" As to my having been away to-night, my dear," said Mr. 
Snitchey, giving her his arm, "the deprivation has been 
mine, Fin sure ; but, as Mr. Craggs knows "' 

Mrs. Snitchey cut this reference very short by hitching her 
husband to a distance, and asking him to look at that man. 
To do her the favour to look at him ! 

"At which man, my dear?" said Mr. Snitchey. 

" Your chosen companion ; I'm no companion to you, Mr. 
Snitchey." 

"Yes, yes, you are, my dear," he interposed. 

"No, no, Tin not," said Mrs. Snitchey with a majestic 
smile. "I know my station. Will you look at your chosen 
companion, Mr. Snitchey ; at your referee, at the keeper of 
your secrets, at the man you trust; at your other self, in 
short ? " 

The habitual association of Self with Craggs, occasioned 
Mr. Snitchey to look in that direction. 

"If you can look that man in the eye this night," said 
Mrs. Snitchey, " and not know that you are deluded, 
practised upon, made the victim of his arts, and bent down 
prostrate to his will by some unaccountable fascination which 
it is impossible to explain and against which no warning of 
mine is of the least avail, all I can say is I pity you ! " 

At the very same moment Mrs. Craggs was oracular on the 
cross subject. Was it possible, she said, that Craggs could 
so blind himself to his Snitcheys, as not to feel his true 
position ? Did he mean to say that he had seen his Snitcheys 
come into that room, and didn't plainly see that there was 
reservation, cunning, treachery, in the man? Would he tell 
her that his very action, when he wiped his forehead and 
looked so stealthily about him, didn't show that there was 
something weighing on the conscience of his precious Snitcheys 
(if he had a conscience), that wouldn't bear the light ? Did 
anybody but his Snitcheys come to festive entertainments like 



THE DANCE AT ITS HEIGHT. 373 

a burglar ? which, by the way, was hardly a clear illustra- 
tion of the case, as he had walked in very mildly at the 
door. And would he still assert to her at noon-day (it being 
nearly midnight), that his Snitcheys were to be justified 
through thick and thin, against all facts, and reason, and 
experience ? 

Neither Snitchey nor Craggs openly attempted to stem the 
current which had thus set in, but, both were content to be 
earned gently along it, until its force abated. This happened 
at about the same time as a general movement for a country 
dance ; when Mr. Snitchey proposed himself as a partner to 
Mrs. Craggs, and Mr. Craggs gallantly offered himself to Mrs. 
Snitchey ; and after some such slight evasions as " why don't 
you ask somebody else?" and "you'll be glad, I know, if I 
decline, 11 and " I wonder you can dance out of the office " (but 
this jocosely now), each lady graciously accepted, and took 
her place. 

It \vas an old custom among them, indeed, to do so, and 
to pair off, in like manner, at dinners and suppers ; for they 
were excellent friends, and on a footing of easy familiarity. 
Perhaps the false Craggs and the wicked Snitchey were a 
recognised fiction with the two wives, as Doe and Roe, in- 
cessantly running up and down bailiwicks, were with the two 
husbands : or, perhaps the ladies had instituted, and taken 
upon themselves, these two shares in the business, rather than 
be left out of it altogether. But, certain it is, that each wife 
went as gravely and steadily to work in her vocation as her 
husband did in his, and would have considered it almost 
impossible for the Firm to maintain, a successful and re- 
spectable existence, without her laudable exertions. 

But, now, the Bird of Paradise was seen to flutter down 
the middle ; and the little bells began to bounce and jingle 
in poussette ; and the Doctor's rosy face spun round and 
round, like an expressive pegtop highly varnished ; and breath- 
less Mr. Craggs began to doubt already, whether country 
dancing had been made "too easy,"" like the rest of life; and 



374 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



Mr. Snitchey, with his nimble cuts and capers, footed it for 
Self and Craggs, and half-a-dozen more. 

Now, too, the fire took fresh courage, favoured by the lively 
wind the dance 
awakened, and 
burnt clear and 
high. It was 
the Genius of 
the room, and 
present every- 
where. It shone 
in people's eyes, 
it sparkled in 
the jewels on 




their ears as if it whispered 
to them slyly, it flashed 
about their waists, it 
flickered on the ground 
and made it 
rosy for their 
feet, it bloomed 
upon the ceil- 
ing that its 
glow might set 
off' their bright 
faces, and it 
kindled up a 
general illumi- 
nation in Mrs. 
Craggs's little 
belfry. 

Now, too, the lively air that fanned it, grew less gentle 
as the music quickened and the dance proceeded with new 
spirit; and a breeze arose that made the leaves and berries 



ALFRED'S RETURN. 375 

dance upon the wall, as they had often done upon the trees ; 
and the breeze rustled in the room as if an invisible com- 
pany of fairies, treading in the footsteps of the good sub- 
stantial revellers, were whirling after them. Now, too, no 
feature of the Doctor's face could be distinguished as he 
spun and spun ; and now there seemed a dozen Birds of 
Paradise in fitful flight ; and now there were a thousand 
little bells at work ; and now a fleet of flying skirts was 
ruffled by a little tempest, when the music gave in, and the 
dance was over. 

Hot and breathless as the Doctor was, it only made him 
the more impatient for Alfred's coming. 

"Anything been seen, Britain? Anything been heard?" 

" Too dark to see far, sir. Too much noise inside the house 
to hear/' 1 

"That's right! The gayer welcome for him. How goes 
the time ? " 

"Just twelve, sir. He can't be long, sir." 

" Stir up the fire, and throw another log upon it,"" said 
the Doctor. " Let him see his welcome blazing out upon the 
night good bov ! as he comes along ! " 

He saw it Yes ! From the chaise he caught the light, as 
he turned the corner by the old church. He knew the room 
from which it shone. He saw the wintry branches of the old 
trees between the light and him. He knew that one of those 
trees rustled musically in the summer time at the window of 
Marion's chamber. 

The tears were in his eyes. His heart throbbed so violently 
that he could hardly bear his happiness. How often he had 
thought of this time pictured it under all circumstances 
feared that it might never come yearned, and wearied for it 
far away ! 

Again the light! Distinct and ruddy; kindled, he knew, 
to give him welcome, and to speed him home. He beckoned 
with his hand, and waved his hat, and cheered out, loud, 
as if the light were they, and they could see and hear him, 



376 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

as he dashed towards them through the mud and mire, 
triumphantly. 

Stop ! He knew the Doctor, and understood what he had 
done. He would not let it be a surprise to them. But he 
could make it one, yet, by going forward on foot. If the 
orchard-gate were open, he could enter there ; if not, the wall 
was easily climbed, as he knew of old; and he would be 
among them in an instant. 

He dismounted from the chaise, and telling the driver 
even that was not easy in his agitation to remain behind 
for a few minutes, and then to follow slowly, ran on with 
exceeding swiftness, tried the gate, scaled the wall, jumped 
down on the other side, and stood panting in the old 
orchard. 

There was a frosty rime upon the trees, which, in the faint 
light of the clouded moon, hung upon the smaller branches 
like dead garlands. Withered leaves crackled and snapped 
beneath his feet, as he crept softly on towards the house. 
The desolation of a winter night sat brooding on the 
earth, and in the sky. But, the red light came cheerily 
towards him from the windows ; figures passed and repassed 
there; and the hum and murmur of voices greeted his ear 
sweetly. 

Listening for hers : attempting, as he crept on, to detach 
it from the rest, and half believing that he heard it : he had 
nearly reached the door, when it was abruptly opened, and 
a figure coming out encountered his. It instantly recoiled 
with a half-suppressed cry. 

" Clemency ," he said, "don't you know me?" 

"Don't come in!" she answered, pushing him back. "Go 
away. Don't ask me why. Don't come in." 

"What is the matter?" he exclaimed. 

"I don't know. I -I am afraid to think. Go back. 
Hark!" 

There was a sudden tumult in the house. She put her 
hands upon her ears. A wild scream, such as no hands could 



MARION LOST. 377 

shut out, was heard ; and Grace distraction in her looks and 
manner rushed out at the door. 

" Grace ! " He caught her in his arms. " What is it ! Is 
she dead ! " 

She disengaged herself, as if to recognise his face, and fell 
down at his feet. 

A crowd of figures came about them from the house. 
Among them was her father, with a paper in his hand. 

"What is it! 11 cried Alfred, grasping his hair with his 
hands, and looking in an agony from face to face, as he 
bent upon his knee beside the insensible girl. "Will no 
one look at me ? Will no one speak to me ? Does no one 
know me? Is there no voice among you all, to tell me 
what it is ! " 

There was a murmur among them. " She is gone." 

" Gone ! " he echoed. 

"Fled, my dear Alfred!" said the Doctor, in a broken 
voice, and with his hands before his face. "Gone from 
her home and us. To-night! She writes that she has 
made her innocent and blameless choice entreats that we 
will forgive her prays that we will not forget her and 
is gone." 

"With whom? Where?" 

He started up, as if to follow in pursuit ; but, when they 
gave way to let him pass, looked wildly round upon them, 
staggered back, and sunk down in his former attitude, clasp- 
ing one of Grace's cold hands in his own. 

There was a hurried running to and fro, confusion, noise, 
disorder, and no purpose. Some proceeded to disperse them- 
selves about the roads, and some took horse, and some got 
lights, and some conversed together, urging that there was no 
trace or track to follow. Some approached him kindly, with 
the view of offering consolation ; some admonished him that 
Grace must be removed into the house, and that he prevented 
it. He never heard them, and he never moved. 

The snow fell fast and thick. He looked up for a moment 



378 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

in the air, and thought that those white ashes strewn upon 
his hopes and misery, were suited to them well. He looked 
round on the whitening ground, and thought how Marion's 
foot-prints would be hushed and covered up, as soon as 
made, and even that remembrance of her blotted out. But 
he never felt the weather and he never stirred. 



HE world had grown six years older 
since that night of the return. It 
was a warm autumn afternoon, and 
there had l>een heavy rain. The 
sun burst suddenly from 




among the clouds ; and the old battle-ground, sparkling 
brilliantly and cheerfully at sight of it in one green place. 



380 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

flashed a responsive welcome there, which spread along the 
country side as if a joyful beacon had been lighted up, and 
answered from a thousand stations. 

How beautiful the landscape kindling in the light, and 
that luxuriant influence passing on like a celestial presence, 
brightening everything! The wood, a sombre mass before, 
revealed its varied tints of yellow, green, brown, red : its 
different forms of trees, with raindrops glittering on their 
leaves and twinkling as they fell. The verdant meadow- 
land, bright and glowing, seemed as if it had been blind, a 
minute since, and now had found a sense of sight wherewith 
to look up at the shining sky. Corn-fields, hedge-rows, 
fences, homesteads, and clustered roofs, the steeple of the 
church, the stream, the water-mill, all sprang out of the 
gloomy darkness smiling. Birds sang sweetly, flowers raised 
their drooping heads, fresh scents arose from the invigorated 
ground; the blue expanse above extended and diffused itself; 
already the sun's slanting rays pierced mortally the sullen 
bank of cloud that lingered in its flight ; and a rainbow, 
spirit of all the colours that adorned the earth and sky, 
spanned the whole arch with its triumphant glory. 

At such a time, one little roadside Inn, snugly sheltered 
behind a great elm-tree with a rare seat for idlers encircling 
its capacious bole, addressed a cheerful front towards the 
traveller, as a house of entertainment ought, and tempted 
him with many mute but significant assurances of a com- 
fortable welcome. The ruddy sign-board perched up in the 
tree, with its golden letters winking in the sun, ogled the 
passer-by, from among the green leaves, like a jolly face, and 
promised good cheer. The horse-trough, full of clear fresh 
water, and the ground below it sprinkled with droppings 
of fragrant hay, made every horse that passed, prick tip 
his ears. The crimson curtains in the lower rooms, and 
the pure white hangings in the little bed-chambers above, 
beckoned, Come in! with every breath of air. Upon the 
bright green shutters, there were golden legends about beer 



THE NUTMEG-GRATER. 



381 



and ale, and neat wines, and good beds; and an affecting 
picture of a brown jug frothing over at the top. Upon the 
window-sills were flowering plants in bright red pots, which 
made a lively show against the white front of the house ; 
and in the darkness of the doorway there were streaks of 




light, which glanced oft' from the surfaces of bottles and 
tankards. 

On the door-step, appeared a proper figure of a landlord, 
too; for, though he was a short man, he was round and 
broad, and stood with his hands in his pockets, and his legs 
just wide enough apart to express a mind at rest upon the 



382 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

subject of the cellar, and an easy confidence too calm and 
virtuous to become a swagger in the general resources of 
the Inn. The superabundant moisture, trickling from every- 
thing after the late rain, set him off well. Nothing near 
him was thirsty. Certain top-heavy dahlias, looking over 
the palings of his neat well-ordered garden, had swilled as 
much as they could carry perhaps a trifle more and may 
have been the worse for liquor ; but the sweet-briar, roses, 
wall-flowers, the plants at the windows, and the leaves on 
the old tree, were in the beaming state of moderate company 
that had taken no more than was wholesome for them, and 
had served to develop their best qualities. Sprinkling dewy 
drops about them on the ground, they seemed profuse of 
innocent and sparkling mirth, that did good where it 
lighted, softening neglected corners which the steady rain 
could seldom reach, and hurting nothing. 

This village Inn had assumed, on being established, an 
uncommon sign. It was called The Nutmeg-Grater. And 
underneath that household word, was inscribed, up in the tree, 
on the same flaming board, and in the like golden characters, 
By Benjamin Britain. 

At a second glance, and on a more minute examination 
of his face, you might have known that it was no other than 
Benjamin Britain himself who stood in the doorway reason- 
ably changed by time, but for the better ; a very comfortable 
host indeed. 

"Mrs. B.," said Mr. Britain, looking down the road, "is 
rather late. If s tea-time." 

As there was no Mrs. Britain coming, he strolled leisurely 
out into the road and looked up at the house, very much to 
his satisfaction. " If s just the sort of house," said Benjamin, 
" I should wish to stop at, if I didn't keep it." 

Then, he strolled towards the garden-paling, and took a 
look at the dahlias. They looked over at him, with a help- 
less drowsy hanging of their heads : which bobbed again, as 
the heavy drops of wet dripped off them. 



MR. BRITAIN'S BETTER HALF. 383 

" You must be looked after," said Benjamin. " Memo- 
randum, not to forget to tell her so. She's a long time 
coining ! " 

Mr. Britain's better half seemed to be by so very much 
his better half, that his own moiety of himself was utterly 
cast away and helpless without her. 

"She hadn't much to do, I think,' 1 said Ben. "There 
were a few little matters of business after market, but not 
many. Oh ! here we are at last ! " 

A chaise-cart, driven by a boy, came clattering along the 
road : and seated in it, in a chair, with a large well-saturated 
umbrella spread out to dry behind her, was the plump figure 
of a matronly woman, with her bare arms folded across a 
basket which she carried on her knee, several other baskets 
and parcels lying crowded around her, and a certain bright 
good nature in her face and contented awkwardness in her 
manner, as she jogged to and fro with the motion of her 
carriage, which smacked of old times, even in the distance. 
Upon her nearer approach, this relish of by-gone days was 
not diminished ; and when the cart stopped at the Nutmeg- 
Grater door, a pair of shoes, alighting from it, slipped nimbly 
through Mr. Britain's open arms, and came down with a 
substantial weight upon the pathway, which shoes could 
hardly have belonged to any one but Clemency Newcome. 

In fact they did belong to her, and she stood in them, and a 
rosy comfortable-looking soul she was : with as much soap on 
her glossy face as in times of yore, but with whole elbows now, 
that had grown quite dimpled in her improved condition. 

" You're late, Clemmy ! " said Mr. Britain. 

" Why, you see, Ben, I've had a deal' to do ! " she replied, 
looking busily after the safe removal into the house of all the 
packages and baskets : " eight, nine, ten, where's eleven ? 
Oh ! my basket's eleven ! It's all right. Put the horse up, 
Harry, and if he coughs again give him a warm mash to-night. 
Eight, nine, ten. Why, where's eleven ? Oh I forgot, it's all 
right. How's the children, Ben ? " 



384 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

" Hearty, Clemmy, hearty." 

" Bless their precious faces ! " said Mrs. Britain, unbonnet- 
ing her own round countenance (for she and her husband were 
by this time in the bar), and smoothing her hair with her 
open hands. " Give us a kiss, old man ! " 
Mr. Britain promptly complied. 

" I think, 11 said Mrs. Britain, applying herself to her pockets 
and drawing forth an immense bulk of thin books and 
crumpled papers : a very kennel of dogs'-ears : " I've done 
everything. Bills all settled turnips sold brewer's account 
looked into and paid 'bacco pipes ordered seventeen pound 
four, paid into the Bank Doctor Heathfield's charge for little 
Clem you'll guess what that is Doctor Heathfield won't 
take nothing again, Ben." 

" I thought he wouldn't," returned Ben. 
" No. He says whatever family you was to have, Ben, he'd 
never put you to the cost of a halfpenny. Not if you was to 
have twenty." 

Mr. Britain's face assumed a serious expression, and he 
looked hard at the wall. 

" An't it kind of him ? " said Clemency. 
"Very," returned Mr. Britain. "It's the sort of kindness 
that I wouldn't presume upon, on any account.'' 

" No," retorted Clemency. " Of course not. Then there's 
the pony he fetched eight pound two ; and that an't bad, 
is it ? " 

" It's very good," said Ben. 

" I'm glad you're pleased ! " exclaimed his wife. " I thought 
you would be; and I think that's all, and so no more at 
present from yours and cetrer, C. Britain. Ha ha ha! 
There ! Take all the papers, and lock 'em up. Oh ! Wait 
a minute. Here's a printed bill to stick on the wall. Wet 
from the printer's. How nice it smells ! " 

" What's this ? " said Ben, looking over the document. 
" I don't know," replied his wife. " I haven't read a word 
of it." 



MR. WARDEN ABROAD. 385 

'"To be sold by Auction,'" read the host of the 
Nutmeg-Grater, "'unless previously disposed of by private 
contract.' " 

" They always put that," said Clemency. 

" Yes, but they don't always put this," he returned. " Look 
here, 'Mansion,' &c. ' offices,' &c., shrubberies,' &c., 'ring 
fence,' &c. ' Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs,' &c., ' ornamental 
portion of the unencumbered freehold property of Michael 
Warden, Esquire, intending to continue to reside abroad ' ! " 

"Intending to continue to reside abroad!" repeated 
Clemency. 

" Here it is," said Britain. " Look ! " 

" And it was only this very day that I heard it whispered 
at the old house, that better and plainer news had been half 
promised of her, soon!" said Clemency, shaking her head 
sorrowfully, and patting her elbows as if the recollection of 
old times unconsciously awakened her old habits. " Dear, dear, 
dear ! There'll be heavy hearts, Ben, yonder." 

Mr. Britain heaved a sigh, and shook his head, and said he 
couldn't make it out : he had left off trying long ago. With 
that remark, he applied himself to putting up the bill just 
inside the bar window. Clemency, after meditating in silence 
for a few moments, roused herself, cleared her thoughtful 
brow, and bustled off to look after the children. 

Though the host of the Nutmeg-Grater had a lively regard 
for his good-wife, it was of the old patronising kind, and she 
amused him mightily. Nothing would have astonished him 
so much, as to have known for certain from any third party, 
that it was she who managed the whole house, and made him, 
by her plain straightforward thrift, good-humour, honesty, and 
industry, a thriving man. So easy it is, in any degree of life (as 
the world very often finds it), to take those cheerful natures 
that never assert their merit, at their own modest valuation ; 
and to conceive a flippant liking of people for their outward 
oddities and eccentricities, whose innate worth, if we would 
look so for, might make us blush in the comparison ! 

2 c 



386 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

It was comfortable to Mr. Britain, to think of his own 
condescension in having married Clemency. She was a per- 
petual testimony to him of the goodness of his heart, and the 
kindness of his disposition ; and he felt that her being an 
excellent wife was an illustration of the old precept that 
virtue is its own reward. 

He had finished wafering up the bill, and had locked the 
vouchers for her day's proceedings in the cupboard chuckling 
all the time, over her capacity for business when, return- 
ing with the news that the two Master Britains were playing 
in the coach-house under the superintendence of one Betsey, 
and that little Clem was sleeping " like a picture, 11 she sat 
down to tea, which had awaited her arrival, on a little table. 
It was a very neat little bar, with the usual display of bottles 
and glasses ; a sedate clock, right to the minute (it was half- 
past five) ; everything in its place, and everything furbished 
and polished up to the very utmost. 

" It's the first time I've sat down quietly to-day, I declare," 
said Mrs. Britain, taking a long breath, as if she had sat down 
for the night ; but getting up again immediately to hand her 
husband his tea, and cut him his bread-and-butter; "how 
that bill does set me thinking of old times ! " 

"Ah ! " said Mr. Britain, handling his saucer like an oyster, 
and disposing of its contents on the same principle. 

" That same Mr. Michael Warden," said Clemency, shaking 
her head at the notice of sale, " lost me my old place." 

" And got you your husband," said Mr. Britain. 

" Well ! So he did," retorted Clemency, " and many thanks 
to him." 

" Man's the creature of habit," said Mr. Britain, surveying 
her, over his saucer. " I had somehow got used to you, Clem ; 
and I found I shouldn't be able to get on without you. So 
we went and got made man and wife. Ha ! ha ! We ! 
Who'd have thought it ! " 

" Who indeed ! " cried Clemency. " It was very good of 
you, Ben." 



A TRAVELLER. 387 

"No, no, no," replied Mr. Britain, with an air of self- 
denial. " Nothing worth mentioning. 11 

" Oh yes it was, Ben," said his wife, with great simplicity ; 
"Fin sure I think so, and am very much obliged to you. 
Ah ! " looking again at the bill ; " when she was known 
to be gone, and out of reach, dear girl, I couldn't help 
telling for her sake quite as much as theirs what I knew, 
could I ? " 

" You told it, anyhow, 11 observed her husband. 

" And Dr. Jeddler," pursued Clemency, putting down her 
tea-cup, and looking thoughtfully at the bill, " in his grief 
and passion turned me out of house and home ! I never have 
been so glad of anything in all my life, as that I didn't say 
an angry word to him, and hadn't any angry feeling towards 
him, even then ; for he repented that truly, afterwards. How 
often he has sat in this room, and told me over and over 
again he was sorry for it ! the last time, only yesterdav, 
when you were out. How often he has sat in this room, and 
talked to me, hour after hour, about one thing and another, 
in which he made believe to be interested ! but only for the 
sake of the days that are gone by, and because he knows she 
used to like me, Ben ! " 

"Why, how did you ever come to catch a glimpse of 
that, Clem ? " asked her husband : astonished that she should 
have a distinct perception of a truth which had only dimly 
suggested itself to his inquiring mind. 

" I don't know, I'm sure, 11 said Clemency, blowing her tea, 
to cool it. " Bless you, I couldn't tell you, if you was to 
offer me a reward of a hundred pound." 

He might have pursued this metaphysical subject but for 
her catching a glimpse of a substantial fact behind him, in 
the shape of a gentleman attired in mourning, and cloaked 
and booted like a rider on horseback, who stood at the bar- 
door. He seemed attentive to their conversation, and not at 
all impatient to interrupt it. 

Clemency hastily rose at this sight. Mr. Britain also rose 



388 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

and saluted the guest. " Will you please to walk up-stairs, 
sir? There's a very nice room up-stairs, sir." 

"Thank you," said the stranger, looking earnestly at Mr. 
Britain's wife. " May I come in here ? " 

" Oh, surely, if you like, sir,"" returned Clemency, admitting 
him. " What would you please to want, sir ? " 

The bill had caught his eye, and he was reading it. 

"Excellent property that, sir," observed Mr. Britain. 

He made no answer; but, turning round, when he had 
finished reading, looked at Clemency with the same observant 
curiosity as before. " You were asking me," he said, still 
looking at her, 

" What you would please to take, sir," answered Clemency, 
stealing a glance at him in return. 

" If you will let me have a draught of ale," he said, moving 
to a table by the window, "and will let me have it here, 
without being any interruption to your meal, I shall be much 
obliged to you." 

He sat down as he spoke, without any further parley, and 
looked out at the prospect. He was an easy, well-knit figure 
of a man in the prime of life. His face, much browned by 
the sun, was shaded by a quantity of dark hair ; and he wore 
a moustache. His beer being set before him, he filled out 
a glass, and drank, good-huinouredly, to the house ; adding, 
as he put the tumbler down again : 

" It's a new house, is it not ? " 

" Not particularly new, sir," replied Mr. Britain. 

" Between five and six years old," said Clemency ; speaking 
very distinctly. 

"I think I heard you mention Dr. Jeddler's name, as I 
came in," inquired the stranger. " That bill reminds me of 
him; for I happen to know something of that story, by 
hearsay, and through certain connexions of mine. Is the old 
man living ? " 

" Yes, he's living, sir," said Clemency. 

" Much changed ? " 



A LONG STORY. 389 

"Since when, sir?" returned Clemency, with remarkable 
emphasis and expression. 

" Since his daughter went away." 

"Yes! he's greatly changed since then," said Clemency. 
"He's grey and old, and hasn't the same way with him at 
all ; but, I think he's happy now. He has taken on with 
his sister since then, and goes to see her very often. That 
did him good, directly. At first, he was sadly broken down ; 
and it was enough to make one's heart bleed, to see him 
wandering about, railing at the world ; but a great change 
for the better came over him after a year or two, and then 
he began to like to talk about his lost daughter, and to 
praise her, ay and the world too! and was never tired of 
saying, with the tears in his poor eyes, how beautiful and 
good she was. He had forgiven her then. That was about 
the same time as Miss Grace's marriage. Britain, you 
remember ? " 

Mr. Britain remembered very well. 

"The sister iv married then," returned the stranger. He 
paused for some time before he asked, " To whom ? " 

Clemency narrowly escaped oversetting the tea-board, in 
her emotion at this question. 

" Did you never hear ? " she said. 

"I should like to hear," he replied, as he filled his glass 
again, and raised it to his lips. 

" Ah ! It would be a long story, if it was properly told," 
said Clemency, resting her chin on the palm of her left hand, 
and supporting that elbow on her right hand, as she shook 
her head, and looked back through the intervening years, as 
if she were looking at a fire. "It would be a long story, I 
am sure." 

" But told as a short one," suggested the stranger. 

"Told as a short one," repeated Clemency in the same 
thoughtful tone, and without any apparent reference to him, 
or consciousness of having auditors, " what would there be 
to tell ? That they grieved together, and remembered her 



390 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

together, like a person dead; that they were so tender of 
her, never would reproach her, called her back to one another 
as she used to be, and found excuses for her! Every one 
knows that. Fm sure / do. No one better," added Clemency, 
wiping her eyes with her hand. 

"And so," suggested the stranger. 

"And so, 1 " said Clemency, taking him up mechanically, and 
without any change in her attitude or manner, "they at last 
were married. They were man-led on her birth-day it comes 
round again to-morrow very quiet, very humble like, but 
very happy. Mr. Alfred said, one night when they were 
walking in the orchard, ' Grace, shall our wedding-day be 
Marion's birth-day ? 1 And it was. 11 

" And they have lived happily together ? " said the 
stranger. 

"Ay, 11 said Clemency. "No two people ever more so. 
They have had no sorrow but this. 11 

She raised her head as with a sudden attention to the cir- 
cumstances under which she was recalling these events, and 
looked quickly at the stranger. Seeing that his face was 
turned toward the window, and that he seemed intent upon 
the prospect, she made some eager signs to her husband, and 
pointed to the bill, and moved her mouth as if she were 
repeating with great energy, one word or phrase to him over 
and over again. As she uttered no sound, and as her dumb 
motions like most of her gestures were of a very extraordinary 
kind, this unintelligible conduct reduced Mr. Britain to the 
confines of despair. He stared at the table, at the stranger, 
at the spoons, at his wife followed her pantomime with 
looks of deep amazement and perplexity asked in the same 
language, was it property in danger, was it he in danger, was 
it she answered her signals with other signals expressive of 
the deepest distress and confusion followed the motions of 
her lips guessed half aloud "milk and water, 11 "monthly 
warning, 11 " mice and walnuts " and couldn't approach her 
meaning. 



THE TRAVELLER RECOGNISED. 391 

Clemency gave it up at last, as a hopeless attempt; and 
moving her chair by very slow degrees a little nearer to the 
stranger, sat with her eyes apparently cast down but glancing 
sharply at him now and then, waiting until he should ask 
some other question. She had not to wait long ; for he said, 
presently : 

"And what is the after history of the young lady who 
went away ? They know it, I suppose ? " 

Clemency shook her head. "I've heard, 11 she said, "that 
Doctor Jeddler is thought to know more of it than he tells. 
Miss Grace has had letters from her sister, saying that she 
was well and happy, and made much happier by her being 
married to Mr. Alfred : and has written letters back. But 
there's a mystery about her life and fortunes, altogether, 
which nothing has cleared up to this hour, and which " 

She faltered here, and stopped. 

"And which 11 repeated the stranger. 

"Which only one other person, I believe, could explain," 
said Clemency, drawing her breath quickly. 

" Who may that be ? 11 asked the stranger. 

" Mr. Michael Warden ! " answered Clemency, almost in a 
shriek : at once conveying to her husband what she would 
have had him understand before, and letting Michael Warden 
know that he was recognised. 

"You remember me, sir? 11 said Clemency, trembling with 
emotion ; " I saw just now you did ! You remember me, 
that night in the garden. I was with her ! " 

" Yes. You were, 11 he said. 

" Yes, sir, 11 returned Clemency. " Yes, to be sure. This is 
my husband, if you please. Ben, my dear Ben, run to Miss 
Grace run to Mr. Alfred run somewhere, Ben I Bring 
somebody here, directly ! " 1 

" Stav ! " said Michael Warden, quietly interposing himself 
between the door and Britain. "What would you do?" 

" Let them know that you are here, sir, 11 answered Clemency, 
clapping her hands in sheer agitation. "Let them know 



392 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

that they may hear of her, from your own lips; let them 
know that she is not quite lost to them, but that she will 
come home again yet, to bless her father and her loving sister 

even her old servant, even me,"" she struck herself upon the 

breast with both hands, "with a sight of her sweet face. 
Run, Ben, run ! " And still she pressed him on towards the 
door, and still Mr. Warden stood before it, with his hand 
stretched out, not angrily, but sorrowfully. 

"Or perhaps,"" said Clemency, running past her husband, 
and catching in her emotion at Mr. Warden's cloak, " perhaps 
she's here now ; perhaps she's close by. I think from your 
manner she is. Let me see her, sir, if you please. I waited 
on her when she was a little child. I saw her grow to be 
the pride of all this place. I knew her when she was Mr. 
Alfred's promised wife. I tried to warn her when you 
tempted her away. I know what her old home was when 
she was like the soul of it, and how it changed when she 
was gone and lost. Let me speak to her, if you please ! " 

He gazed at her with compassion, not unmixed with 
wonder : but, he made no gesture of assent. 

"I don't think she can know," pursued Clemency, "how 
truly they forgive her; how they love her; what jov it 
would be to them, to see her once more. She may be 
timorous of going home. Perhaps if she sees me, it may 
give her new heart. Only tell me truly, Mr. Warden, is she 
with you? 11 

" She is not, 11 he answered, shaking his head. 

This answer, and his manner, and his black dress, and his 
coming back so quietly, and his announced intention of con- 
tinuing to live abroad, explained it all. Marion was dead. 

He didn't contradict her ; yes, she was dead ! Clemency 
sat down, hid her face upon the table, and cried. 

At that moment, a grey-headed old gentleman came running 
in : quite out of breath, and panting so much that his voice 
was scarcely to be recognised as the voice of Mr. Snitchey. 

" Good Heaven, Mr. Warden ! " said the lawver, taking 



MR. SNITCHFA" AND HIS CLIENT. 393 

him aside, " what wind has blown " He was so blown 

himself, that he couldn't get on any further until after a 
pause, when he added, feebly, " you here ? " 

"An ill-wind, I am afraid," he answered. "If you could 
have heard what has just passed how I have been besought 
and entreated to perform impossibilities what confusion and 
affliction I carry with me ! " 

"I can guess it all. But why did you ever come here, my 
good sir? 1 ' retorted Snitchey. 

" Come ! How should I know who kept the house ? When 
I sent my servant on to you, I strolled in here because the 
place was new to me ; and I had a natural curiosity in 
everything new and old, in these old scenes ; and it was out- 
side the town. I wanted to communicate with you, first, 
before appearing there. I wanted to know what people 
would say to me. I see by your manner that you can tell 
me. If it were not for your confounded caution, I should 
have been possessed of everything long ago."" 

"Our caution!"" returned the lawyer, "speaking for Self 
and Craggs deceased," here Mr. Snitchey, glancing at his 
hat-band, shook his head, " how r can you reasonably blame 
us, Mr. Warden ? It was understood between us that the 
subject was never to be renewed, and that it wasn't a subject 
on which grave and sober men like us (I made a note of 
your observations at the time) could interfere. Our caution 
too! When Mr. Craggs, sir, went down to his respected 
grave in the full belief " 

" I had given a solemn promise of silence until I should 
return, whenever that might be," interrupted Mr. Warden ; 
"and I have kept it." 

" Well, sir, and I repeat it," returned Mr. Snitchey, " we 
were bound to silence too. We were bound to silence in 
our duty towards ourselves, and in our duty towards a 
variety of clients, you among them, who were as close as 
wax. It was not our place to make inquiries of you on such 
a delicate subject. I had mv suspicions, sir; but, it is not 



394 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

six months since I have known the truth, and been assured 
that you lost her." 

" By whom ? " inquired his client. 

" By Doctor Jeddler himself, sir, who at last reposed that 
confidence in me voluntarily. He, and only he, has known 
the whole truth, years and years." 

" And you know it ? " said his client. 

" I do, sir ! " replied Snitchey ; " and I have also reason to 
know that it will be broken to her sister to-morrow evening. 
They have given her that promise. In the meantime, perhaps 
you'll give me the honour of your company at my house ; 
being unexpected at your own. But, not to run the chance 
of any more such difficulties as you have had here, in case 
you should be recognised though you're a good deal changed ; 
I think I might have passed you myself, Mr. Warden we 
had better dine here, and walk on in the evening. It's a 
very good place to dine at, Mr. Warden : your own property, 
by-the-bye. Self and Craggs (deceased) took a chop here 
sometimes, and had it very comfortably served. Mr. Craggs, 
sir," said Snitchey, shutting his eyes tight for an instant, and 
opening them again, " was struck off the roll of life too soon." 

"Heaven forgive me for not condoling with you," returned 
Michael Warden, passing his hand across his forehead, "but 
I'm like a man in a dream at present. I seem to want my 
wits. Mr. Craggs yes I am very sorry we have lost Mr. 
Craggs." But he looked at Clemency as he said it, and 
seemed to sympathise with Ben, consoling her. 

"Mr. Craggs, sir," observed Snitchey, "didn't find life, I 
regret to say, as easy to have and to hold as his theory made 
it out, or he would have been among us now. It's a great 
loss to me. He was my right arm, my right leg, my right 
ear, my right eye, was Mr. Craggs. I am paralytic without 
him. He bequeathed his share of the business to Mrs. Craggs, 
her executors, administrators, and assigns. His name remains 
in the Firm to this hour. I try, in a childish sort of a way, 
to make believe, sometimes, he's alive. You may observe 



WAIT TILL TO-MORROW! 395 

that I speak for Self and Craggs deceased, sir deceased," 
said the tender-hearted attorney, waving his pocket-handker- 
chief. 

Michael Warden, who had still been observant of Clemency, 
turned to Mr. Snitchey when he ceased to speak, and whispered 
in his ear. 

" Ah, poor thing ! " said Snitchey, shaking his head. " Yes. 
She was always very faithful to Marion. She was always 
very fond of her. Pretty Marion ! Poor Marion ! Cheer 
up, Mistress you are married now, you know, Clemency." 

Clemency only sighed, and shook her head. 

" Well, well ! Wait till to-morrow," said the lawyer, 
kindly. 

"To-morrow cant bring back the dead to life, Mister," 
said Clemency, sobbing. 

" No. It can't do that, or it would bring back Mr. 
Craggs, deceased," returned the lawyer. " But it may bring 
some soothing circumstances ; it may bring some comfort. 
Wait till to-morrow ! " 

So Clemency, shaking his proffered hand, said she would ; 
and Britain, who had been terribly cast down at sight of his 
despondent wife (which was like the business hanging its 
head), said that was right ; and Mr. Snitchey and Michael 
Warden went up-stairs ; and there they were soon engaged 
in a conversation so cautiously conducted, that no murmur 
of it was audible above the clatter of plates and dishes, 
the hissing of the frying-pan, the bubbling of saucepans, the 
low monotonous waltzing of the jack with a dreadful click 
every now and then as if it had met with some mortal 
accident to its head, in a fit of giddiness and all the other 
preparations in the kitchen for their dinner. 

To-morrow was a bright and peaceful day; and nowhere 
were the autumn tints more beautifully seen, than from the 
quiet orchard of the Doctor's house. The snows of many 
winter nights had melted from that ground, the withered 



396 THE BATTEE OF LIFE. 

leaves of many summer times had rustled there, since she 
had fled. The honey-suckle porch was green again, the trees 
cast bountiful and changing shadows on the grass, the land- 
scape was as tranquil and serene as it had ever been ; but 
where was she ! 

Not there. Not there. She would have been a stranger 
sight in her old home now, even than that home had been 
at first, without her. But, a lady sat in the familiar place, 
from whose heart she had never passed away ; in whose true 
memory she lived, unchanging, youthful, radiant with all 
promise and all hope ; in whose affection and it was a 
mother's now, there was a cherished little daughter playing 
by her side she had no rival, no successor; upon whose 
gentle lips her name was trembling then. 

The spirit of the lost girl looked out of those eyes. Those 
eyes of Grace, her sister, sitting with her husband in the 
orchard, on their wedding-day, and his and Marion's birth-da)'. 

He had not become a great man ; he had not grown rich ; 
he had not forgotten the scenes and friends of his youth ; he 
had not fulfilled any one of the Doctor's old predictions. 
But, in his useful, patient, unknown visiting of poor men's 
homes ; and in his watching of sick beds ; and in his daily 
knowledge of the gentleness and goodness flowering the by- 
paths of this world, not to be trodden down beneath the 
heavy foot of poverty, but springing up, elastic, in its track, 
and making its way beautiful ; he had better learned and 
proved, in each succeeding year, the truth of his old faith. 
The manner of his life, though quiet and remote, had shown 
him how often men still entertained angels, unawares, as in 
the olden time ; and how the most unlikely forms even some 
that were mean and ugly to the view, and poorly clad became 
irradiated by the couch of sorrow, want, and pain, and 
changed to ministering spirits with a glory round their heads. 

He lived to better purpose on the altered battle-ground, 
perhaps, than if he had contended restlessly in more ambitious 
lists ; and he was happy with his wife, dear Grace. 



GRACE AND HER HUSBAND. 397 

And Marion. Had he forgotten her ? 

"The time has flown, dear Grace," he said, "since then ;" 
they had been talking of that night; "and yet it seems a 
long long while ago. We count by changes and events 
within us. Not by years." 

"Yet we have years to count by, too, since Marion was 
with us," returned Grace. " Six times, dear husband, count- 
ing to-night as one, we have sat here on her birth -day, and 
spoken together of that happy return, so eagerly expected and 
so long deferred. Ah when will it be ! When will it be ! " 

Her husband attentively observed her, as the tears collected 
in her eyes ; and drawing nearer, said : 

" But, Marion told you, in that farewell letter which she 
left for you upon your table, love, and which you read so 
often, that years must pass away before it could be. Did 
she not ? " 

She took a letter from her breast, and kissed it, and said 
" Yes." 

" That through these intervening years, however happy she 
might be, she would look forward to the time when you 
would meet again, and all would be made clear; and that 
she prayed you, trustfully and hopefully to do the same. 
The letter runs so, does it not, my dear ? " 

"Yes, Alfred." 

"And every other letter she has written since?" 

" Except the last some months ago in which she spoke 
of you, and what you then knew, and what I was to learn 
to-night." 

He looked towards the sun, then fast declining, and said 
that the appointed time was sunset. 

" Alfred ! " said Grace, laying her hand upon his shoulder 
earnestly, " there is something in this letter this old letter, 
which you say I read so often that I have never told you. 
But, to-night, dear husband, with that sunset drawing near, 
and all our life seeming to soften and become hushed with 
the departing day, I cannot keep it secret." 



398 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

"What is it, love?" 

"When Marion went away, she wrote me, here, that you 
had once left her a sacred trust to me, and that now she left 
you, Alfred, such a trust in my hands : praying and beseech- 
ing me, as I loved her, and as I loved you, not to reject the 
affection she believed (she knew, she said) you would transfer 
to me when the new wound was healed, but to encourage 
and return it." 

" And make me a proud, and happy man again, Grace. 
Did she say so ? " 

"She meant, to make myself so blest and honoured in 
your love," was his wife's answer, as he held her in his arms. 

"Hear me, my dear!" he said. "No. Hear me so!" 
and as he spoke, he gently laid the head she had raised, 
again upon his shoulder. " I know why I have never heard 
this passage in the letter, until now. I know why no trace 
of it ever showed itself in any word or look of yours at that 
time. I know why Grace, although so true a friend to me, 
was hard to win to be my wife. And knowing it, my own ! 
I know the priceless value of the heart I gird within my 
arms, and thank GOD for the rich possession ! " 

She wept, but not for sorrow, as he pressed her to his 
heart. After a brief space, he looked down at the child, 
who was sitting at their feet playing with a little basket 
of flowers, and bade her look how golden and how red the 
sun was. 

"Alfred," said Grace, raising her head quickly at these 
words. "The sun is going down. You have not forgotten 
what I am to know before it sets." 

" You are to know the truth of Marion's history, my love," 
he answered. 

"All the truth," she said, imploringly. "Nothing veiled 
from me, any more. That was the promise. Was it not ? " 

" It was," he answered. 

"Before the sun went down on Marion's birth-day. And 
you see it, Alfred ? It is sinking fast," 



MARIONS BIRTH-DAY. J3L9 

He put his arm about her waist, and, looking steadily into 
her eyes, rejoined : 

"That truth is not reserved so long for me to tell, dear 
Grace. It is to come from other lips." 

" From other lips ! " she faintly echoed. 

"Yes. I know your constant heart, I know how brave 
you are, I know that to you a word of preparation is enough. 
You have said, truly, that the time is come. It is. Tell 
me that you have present fortitude to bear a trial a surprise 
a shock : and the messenger is Avaiting at the gate."" 

"What messenger?" she said. "And 'what intelligence 
does he bring?" 

" I am pledged," he answered her, preserving his steady 
look, " to say no more. Do you think you understand me ? " 

" I am afraid to think," she said. 

There was that emotion in his face, despite its steady 
gaze, which frightened her. Again she hid her own face 
on his shoulder, trembling, and entreated him to pause a 
moment. 

" Courage, my wife ! When you have firmness to receive 
the messenger, the messenger is waiting at the gate. The 
sun is setting on Marion's birth-day. Courage, courage, 
Grace ! " 

She raised her head, and, looking at him, told him she was 
ready. As she stood, and looked upon him going away, her 
face was so like Marion's as it had been in her later days 
at home, that it was wonderful to see. He took the child 
with him. She called her back she bore the lost girl's 
name and pressed her to her bosom, ^he little creature, 
being released again, sped after him, and Grace was left 
alone. 

She knew not what she dreaded, or what hoped ; but 
remained there, motionless, looking at the porch by which 
they had disappeared. 

Ah ! what was that, emerging from its shadow ; standing 
on its threshold ! That figure, with its white garments 



400 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

rustling in the evening air; its head laid down upon her 
father's breast, and pressed against it to his loving heart ! O 
God ! was it a vision that came bursting from the old man's 
arms, and with a cry, and with a waving of its hands, and 
with a wild precipitation of itself upon her in its boundless 
love, sank down in her embrace ! 

" Oh, Marion, Marion ! Oh, my sister ! Oh, my heart's 
dear love! Oh, joy and happiness unutterable, so to meet 
again ! " 

It was no dream, no phantom conjured up by hope and 
fear, but Marion, -sweet Marion! So beautiful, so happy, so 
unalloyed by care and trial, so elevated and exalted in her 
loveliness, that as the setting sun shone brightly on her 
upturned face, she might have been a spirit visiting the 
earth upon some healing mission. 

Clinging to her sister, who had dropped upon a seat and 
bent down over her and smiling through her teal's and 
kneeling, close before her, with both arms twining round her, 
and never turning for an instant from her face and with 
the glory of the setting sun upon her brow, and with the 
soft tranquillity of evening gathering around them Marion 
at length broke silence; her voice, so calm, low, clear, and 
pleasant, well-tuned to the time. 

" When this was my dear home, Grace, as it will be now 
again " 

" Stay, my sweet love ! A moment ! O Marion, to hear 
you speak again." 

She could not bear the voice she loved so well, at first. 

" When this was my dear home, Grace, as it will be now 
again, I loved him from my soul. I loved him most 
devotedly. I would have died for him, though I was so 
young. I never slighted his affection in my secret breast 
for one brief instant. It was far beyond all price to me. 
Although it is so long ago, and past, and gone, and every- 
thing is wholly changed, I could not bear to think that 
you, who love so well, should think I did not truly love 



MARION FOUND. 401 

him once. I never loved him better, Grace, than when he 
left this very scene upon this very day. I never loved him 
better, dear one, than I did that night when / left here/ 1 

Her sister, bending over her, could look into her face, and 
hold her fast. 

"But he had gained, unconsciously," said Marion, with a 
gentle smile, "another heart, before I knew that I had one 
to give him. That heart yours, my sister ! was so yielded 
up, in all its other tenderness, to me ; was so devoted, and 
so noble; that it plucked its love away, and kept its secret 
from all eyes but mine Ah ! what other eyes were quickened 
by such tenderness and gratitude ! and was content to 
sacrifice itself to me. But, I knew something of its depths. 
I knew the struggle it had made. I knew its high, in- 
estimable worth to him, and his appreciation of it, let him 
love me as he would. I knew the debt I owed it. I had its 
great example every day before me. What you had done 
for me, I knew that I could do, Grace, if I would, for you. 
I never laid my head down on my pillow, but I prayed with 
tears to do it. I never laid my head down on my pillow, 
but I thought of Alfred's own words on the day of his 
departure, and how truly he had said (for I knew that, 
knowing you) that there were victories gained every day, 
in struggling hearts, to which these fields of battle were 
nothing. Thinking more and more upon the great endurance 
cheerfully sustained, and never known or cared for, that there 
must be, every day and hour, in that great strife of which he 
spoke, my trial seemed to grow light and easy. And He 
who knows our hearts, my dearest, at this moment, and who 
knows there is no drop of bitterness or grief of anything 
but unmixed happiness in mine, enabled me to make the 
resolution that I never would be Alfred's wife. That he 
should be my brother, and your husband, if the course I took 
could bring that happy end to pass ; but that I never would 
(Grace, I then loved him dearly, dearly !) be his wife ! " 
" O Marion ! O Marion ! " 

2 D 



402 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

" I had tried to seem indifferent to him ; " and she pressed 
her sister's face against her own ; " but that was hard, and 
you were always his true advocate. I had tried to tell you 
of my resolution, but you would never hear me; you would 
never understand me. The time was drawing near for his 
return. I felt that I must act, before the daily intercourse 
between us was renewed. I knew that one great pang, 
undergone at that time, would save a lengthened agony to all 
of us. I knew that if I went away then, that end must 
follow which has followed, and which has made us both so 
happy, Grace ! I wrote to good Aunt Martha, for a refuge 
in her house : I did not then tell her all, but something of 
my story, and she freely promised it. While I was contesting 
that step with myself, and with my love of you, and home, 
Mr. Warden, brought here by an accident, became, for some 
time, our companion.'" 

"I have sometimes feared of late years, that this might 
have been, 1 ' exclaimed her sister; and her countenance was 
ashy-pale. "You never loved him and you married him in 
your self-sacrifice to me ! " 

"He was then," said Marion, drawing her sister closer to 
her, " on the eve of going secretly away for a long time. He 
wrote to me, after leaving here ; told me what his condition 
and prospects really were ; and offered me his hand. He told 
me he had seen I was not happy in the prospect of Alfred's 
return. I believe he thought my heart had no part in that 
contract ; perhaps thought I might have loved him once, and 
did not then; perhaps thought that when I tried to seem 
indifferent, I tried to hide indifference I cannot tell. But I 
wished that you should feel me wholly lost to Alfred hope- 
less to him dead. Do you understand me, love ? " 

Her sister looked into her face, attentively. She seemed 
in doubt. 

" I saw Mr. Warden, and confided in his honour ; charged 
him with my secret, on the eve of his and my departure. He 
kept it. Do you understand me, dear ? " 



MARION'S STORY. 403 

Grace looked confusedly upon her. She scarcely seemed to 
hear. 

" My love, my sister ! " said Marion, " recall your thoughts 
a moment ; listen to me. Do not look so strangely on me. 
There are countries, dearest, where those who would abjure 
a misplaced passion, or would strive against some cherished 
feeling of their hearts and conquer it, retire into a hopeless 
solitude, and close the world against themselves and worldly 
loves and hopes for ever. When women do so, they assume 
that name which is so dear to you and me, and call each 
other Sisters. But, there may be sisters, Grace, who, in the 
broad world out of doors, and underneath its free sky, and 
in its crowded places, and among its busy life, and trying to 
assist and cheer it and to do some good, learn the same lesson ; 
and who, with hearts still fresh and young, and open to all 
happiness and means of happiness, can say the battle is long 
past, the victory long won. And such a one am I! You 
understand me now ? " 

Still she looked fixedly upon her, and made no reply. 

" Oh Grace, dear Grace," said Marion, clinging yet more 
tenderly and fondly to that breast from which she had been 
so long exiled, " if you were not a happy wife and mother 
if I had no little namesake here if Alfred, my kind brother, 
were not your own fond husband from whence could I derive 
the ecstasy I feel to-night! But, as I left here, so I have 
returned. My heart has known no other love, my hand has 
never been bestowed apart from it. I am still your maiden 
sister, unmarried, unbetrothed : your own loving old Marion, 
in whose affection you exist alone and have no partner, 
Grace ! " 

She understood her now. Her face relaxed : sobs came to 
her relief; and falling on her neck, she wept and wept, and 
fondled her as if she were a child again. 

When they were more composed, they found that the 
Doctor, and his sister good Aunt Martha, were standing near 
at hand, with Alfred. 



404 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

"This is a weary day for me," said good Aunt Martha, 
smiling through her tears, as she embraced her nieces ; " for I 
lose my dear companion in making you all happy ; and what 
can you give me, in return for my Marion ? " 

"A converted brother,"" said the Doctor. 

"That's something, to be sure," retorted Aunt Martha, 
"in such a farce as " 

"No, pray don't,"" said the Doctor penitently. 

" Well, I won't," replied Aunt Martha. " But, I consider 
myself ill used. I don't know what's to become of me with- 
out my Marion, after we have lived together half-a-dozen 
years." 

"You must come and live here, I suppose," replied the 
Doctor. " We shan't quarrel now, Martha." 

" Or you must get married, Aunt," said Alfred. 

" Indeed," returned the old lady, " I think it might be a 
good speculation if I were to set my cap at Michael Warden, 
who, I hear, is come home much the better for his absence 
in all respects. But as I knew him when he was a boy, and 
I was not a very young woman then, perhaps he mightn't 
respond. So I'll make up my mind to go and live with 
Marion, when she marries, and until then (it will not be 
very long, I dare say) to live alone. What do you say, 
Brother ? " 

" I've a great mind to say it's a ridiculous world altogether, 
and there's nothing serious in it," observed the poor old 
Doctor. 

"You might take twenty affidavits of it if you chose, 
Anthony," said his sister; "but nobody would believe you 
with such eyes as those." 

" It's a world full of hearts," said the Doctor, hugging his 
younger daughter, and bending across her to hug Grace for 
he couldn't separate the sisters ; " and a serious world, with 
all its folly even with mine, which was enough to have 
swamped the whole globe ; and it is a world on which the 
sun never rises, but it looks upon a thousand bloodless battles 



A HOLE IN THE DOCTOR'S PHILOSOPHY. 405 

that are some set-off against the miseries and wickedness of 
Battle-Fields ; and it is a world we need be careful how we 
libel, Heaven forgive us, for it is a world of sacred mysteries, 
and its Creator only knows what lies beneath the surface of 
His lightest image ! " 

You would not be the better pleased with my rude pen, if 
it dissected and laid open to your view the transports of this 
family, long severed and now reunited. Therefore, I will not 
follow the poor Doctor through his humbled recollection of the 
sorrow he had had, when Marion was lost to him ; nor, will I 
tell how serious he had found that world to be, in which some 
love, deep-anchored, is the portion of all human creatures; 
nor, how such a trifle as the absence of one little unit in the 
great absurd account, had stricken him to the ground. Nor, 
how, in compassion for his distress, his sister had, long ago, 
revealed the truth to him by slow degrees, and brought him 
to the knowledge of the heart of his self-banished daughter, 
and to that daughter's side. 

Nor, how Alfred Heathfield had been told the truth, too, 
in the course of that then current year ; and Marion had 
seen him, and had promised him, as her brother, that on her 
birth-day, in the evening, Grace should know it from her 
lips at last. 

" I beg your pardon, Doctor," said Mr. Snitchey, looking 
into the orchard, "but have I liberty to come in?" 

Without waiting for permission, he came straight to 
Marion, and kissed her hand, quite joyfully. 

"If Mr. Craggs had been alive, my dear Miss Marion," 
said Mr. Snitchey, "he would have had great interest in this 
occasion. It might have suggested to him, Mr. Alfred, that 
our life is not too easy perhaps : that, taken altogether, it will 
bear any little smoothing we can give it; but Mr. Craggs 
was a man who could endure to be convinced, sir. He was 
always open to conviction. If he were open to conviction, 
now, I this is weakness. Mrs. Snitchey, my dear," at his 



406 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

summons that lady appeared from behind the door, " you are 
among old friends. 11 

Mrs. Snitchey having delivered her congratulations, took 
her husband aside. 

" One moment, Mr. Snitchey,' 1 said that lady. " It is not 
in my nature to rake up the ashes of the departed." 11 

" No, my dear," returned her husband. 

"Mr. Craggs is " 

" Yes, my dear, he is deceased," said Snitchey. 

" But I ask you if you recollect," pursued his wife, " that 
evening of the ball ? I only ask you that. If you do ; and 
if your memory has not entirely failed you, Mr. Snitchey ; and 
if you are not absolutely in your dotage ; I ask you to connect 
this time with that to remember how I begged and prayed 
you, on my knees " 

" Upon your knees, my dear ? " said Mr. Snitchey. 

"Yes," said Mrs. Snitchey, confidently, "and you know 
it to beware of that man to observe his eye and now to 
tell me whether I was right, and whether at that moment he 
knew secrets which he didn^ choose to tell." 

" Mrs. Snitchey," returned her husband, in her ear, " Madam. 
Did you ever observe anything in my eye?" 

" No," said Mrs. Snitchey, sharply. " Don't flatter your- 
self." 

" Because, Madam, that night," he continued, twitching 
her by the sleeve, " it happens that we both knew secrets 
which we didn't choose to tell, and both knew just the same 
professionally. And so the less you say about such things 
the better, Mrs. Snitchey ; and take this as a warning to 
have wiser and more charitable eyes another time. Miss 
Marion, I brought a friend of yours along with me. Here ! 
Mistress ! " 

Poor Clemency, with her apron to her eyes, came slowly 
in, escorted by her husband; the latter doleful with the 
presentiment, that if she abandoned herself to grief, the 
Nutmeg-Grater was done for. 



A STRANGER IN THE ORCHARD. 407 

" Now, Mistress," said the lawyer, checking Marion as she 
ran towards her, and interposing himself between them, 
" what's the matter with you ? " 

" The matter ! " cried poor Clemency. When, looking up 
in wonder, and in indignant remonstrance, and in the added 
emotion of a great roar from Mr. Britain, and seeing that 
sweet face so well remembered close before her, she stared, 
sobbed, laughed, cried, screamed, embraced her, held her 
fast, released her, fell on Mr. Snitchey and embraced him 
(much to Mrs. Snitchey 's indignation), fell on the Doctor and 
embraced him, fell on Mr. Britain and embraced him, and 
concluded by embracing herself, throwing her apron over her 
head, and going into hysterics behind it. 

A stranger had come into the orchard, after Mr. Snitchey, 
and had remained apart, near the gate, without being observed 
by any of the group ; for they had little spare attention to 
bestow, and that had been monopolised by the ecstasies of 
Clemency. He did not appear to wish to be observed, 
but stood alone, with downcast eyes ; and there was an air 
of dejection about him (though he was a gentleman of a 
gallant appearance) which the general happiness rendered 
more remarkable. 

None but the quick eyes of Aunt Martha, however, 
remarked him at all; but, almost as soon as she espied 
him, she was in conversation with him. Presently, going 
to where Marion stood with Grace and her little name- 
sake, she whispered something in Marion's ear, at which she 
started, and appeared surprised; but soon recovering from 
her confusion, she timidly approached the stranger, in Aunt 
Martha's company, and engaged in conversation with 
him too. 

"Mr. Britain," said the lawyer, putting his hand in his 
pocket, and bringing out a legal-looking document, while 
this was going on, " I congratulate you. You are now the 
whole and sole proprietor of that freehold tenement, at 
present occupied and held by yourself as a licensed tavern, or 



408 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



house of public entertainment, and commonly called or known 
by the sign of the Nutmeg-Grater. Your wife lost one house, 
through my client Mr. Michael Warden ; and now gains 
another. I shall have the pleasure of canvassing you 
for the county, one of these fine mornings." 

" Would it make any differ- 
ence in the vote if the sign 
was altered, sir ? " asked 
Britain. , ! 

"Not in the least," replied 
the lawyer. 

"Then," said 
Mr. Britain, 
handing him 
back the con- 
veyance, "just 
clap in the 
words, * and 
Thimble, 1 will 
you be so good ; 
and Til have 
the two mottoes 
painted up in 
the parlour in- 
stead of my 
wife's portrait." 

"And let me," 
said a voice be- 
hind them ; it 
was the stran- 
ger's Michael 
Warden's; "let 
me claim the 

benefit of those inscriptions. Mr. Heathfield and Dr. Jeddler, 
I might have deeply wronged you both. That I did not, is 
no virtue of my own. I will not say that I am six years 




FORGET AN 7 D FORGIVE! 409 

wiser than I was, or better. But I have known, at any rate, 
that term of self-reproach. I can urge no reason why you 
should deal gently with me. I abused the hospitality of this 
house ; and learnt by my own demerits, with a shame I 
never have forgotten, yet with some profit too, I would fain 
hope, from one,"" he glanced at Marion, " to whom I made 
my humble supplication for forgiveness, when I knew her 
merit and my deep unworthiness. In a few days I shall 
quit this place for ever. I entreat your pardon. Do as 
you would be done by ! Forget and Forgive ! " 

TIME from whom I had the latter portion of this story, 
and with whom I have the pleasure of a personal acquaintance 
of some five-and- thirty years 1 duration informed me, leaning 
easily upon his scythe, that Michael Warden never went 
away again, and never sold his house, but opened it afresh, 
maintained a golden means of hospitality, and had a wife, 
the pride and honour of that country-side, whose name was 
Marion. But, as I have observed that Time confuses facts 
occasionally, I hardly know what weight to give to his 
authority. 



THE HAUNTED MAN 

AND 

THE GHOSTS BARGAIN. 
for 



CONTENTS, 



CHAPTER L 

Mil 
The Gift Bestowed .... .417 



CHAPTER II. 
The Gift Diffused 447 

CHAPTER TTT. 
The Gift Reversed . . .... 494 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 



FRONTISPIECE 

TITLE 

ILLUSTRATED PAGE TO CHAP. I. 

THE LIGHTHOUSE . 

MlLLY AND THE OLD MAN . 
REDLAW AND THE PHANTOM. 
REDLAW AND THE BOY 
ILLUSTRATED DOUBLE-PAGE TO 1 

CHAP. II J 

THE TETTEUBYS . 
MlLLY AND THE STUDENT 
THE EXTERIOR OF THE OLDI 

COLLEGE . . . .] 
THE BOY BEFORE THE FIRE . 
ILLUSTRATED PAGE TO ) 

CHAP. Ill I 

JOHNNY AND MOLOCH . 
MlLLY AND THE CHILDREN . 
THE CHRISTMAS PARTY IN THE> 

GREAT DINNER HALL . f 



Engraver. Artitt. 

Martin & Corlmdd. J. TENNIEL 

Martin & Corbmdd. J. TENNIEL 

Martin & Corbould. J. TENNIEL . 



T.Williams. 



\ C.STANFIELD, 

\ 1 ... A. 



Martin & Corbould. F. STONE 
Smith tfc CMtnam. J. LEECH 
Smith & Chdtnam. J. LEECH 



417 



427 
436 
444 



Martin & CorboiUd. J. TENNIEL 448-9 



Smith & Chdtnam. 
Martin & Corloidd. 



J. LEECH . 456 
F. STONE . 472 



. STANFIELD, 

K.A. 

J. LEECH . 



T.Williams. i 

{ 

Smith &Cheltnam. J. LEECH . 491 
Martin & Corbould. J. TENNIEL . 494 



Smith & Chdtnam. 
Dalziel. 

T. Williams. 



J. LEECH 
F. STONE 



500 
508 



. STANFIELD, 5 

1 v. A. 



THE HAUNTED MAN. 




_.-. 




CHAPTER I. 



THE GIFT BESTOWED. 

EVERYBODY said so. 

Far be it from me to assert that what every- 
body says must be true. Everybody is, often, 
as likely to be wrong as right. In the general 
experience, everybody has been wrong so often, 
and it has taken in most instances such a weary 
while to find out how wrong, that the authority 
is proved to be fallible. Everybody may some- 
times be right ; 
"but thaC no 
rule," as the 
ghost of Giles 
Scroggins says 
in the ballad. 

The dread 
word, GHOST, 
recalls me. 

Eve ry body 
said he looked 
like a haunted 
man. The ex- 
tent of my 
2 E 




418 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

present claim for everybody is, that they were so far right. 
He did. 

Who could have seen his hollow cheek, his sunken brilliant 
eye; his black attired figure, indefinably grim, although well- 
knit and well-proportioned; his grizzled hair hanging, like 
tangled sea-weed, about his face, as if he had been, through 
his whole life, a lonely mark for the chafing and beating of 
the great deep of humanity, but might have said he looked 
like a haunted man ? 

Who could have observed his manner, taciturn, thoughtful, 
gloomy, shadowed by habitual reserve, retiring always and 
jocund never, with a distraught air of reverting to a bygone 
place and time, or of listening to some old echoes in his mind, 
but might have said ft was the manner of a haunted man ? 

Who could have heard his voice, slow-speaking, deep, and 
grave, with a natural fulness and melody in it which he seemed 
to set himself against and stop, but might have said it was 
the voice of a haunted man ? 

AVho that had seen him in his inner chamber, part library 
and part laboratory, for he was, as the world knew, far and 
wide, a learned man in chemistry, and a teacher on whose lips 
and hands a crowd of aspiring ears and eyes hung daily, 
who that had seen him there, upon a winter night, alone, 
surrounded by his drugs and instruments and books ; the 
shadow of his shaded lamp a monstrous beetle on the wall, 
motionless among a crowd of spectral shapes raised there by 
the flickering of the fire upon the quaint objects around him ; 
some of these phantoms (the reflection of glass vessels that 
held liquids), trembling at heart like things that knew his 
power to uncombine them, and to give back their component 
parts to fire and vapour ; who that had seen him then, his 
work done, and he pondering in his chair before the rusted 
grate and red flame, moving his thin mouth as if in speech, 
but silent as the dead, would not have said that the man 
seemed haunted and the chamber too ? 

Who might not, by a very easy flight of fancy, have 



A VAULT-LIKE DWELLING. 419 

believed that everything about him took this haunted tone, 
and that he lived on haunted ground ? 

His dwelling was so solitary and vault-like, an old, retired 
part of an ancient endowment for students, once a brave 
edifice planted in an open place, but now the obsolete whim 
of forgotten architects; smoke-age-and-weather-darkened, 
squeezed on every side by the overgrowing of the great city, 
and choked, like an old well, with stones and bricks; its small 
quadrangles, lying down in very pits formed by the streets 
and buildings, which, in course of time, had been constructed 
above its heavy chimney stacks ; its old trees, insulted by the 
neighbouring smoke, which deigned to droop so low when it 
was very feeble and the weather very moody ; its grass-plots, 
struggling with the mildewed earth to be grass, or to win any 
show of compromise ; its silent pavements, unaccustomed to 
the tread of feet, and even to the observation of eyes, except 
when a stray face looked down from the upper world, wonder- 
ing what nook it was ; its sun-dial in a little bricked-up 
corner, where no sun had straggled for a hundred years, but 
where, in compensation for the sun's neglect, the snow would 
lie for weeks when it lay nowhere else, and the black east 
wind would spin like a huge humming-top, when in all other 
places it was silent and still. 

His dwelling, at its heart and core within doors at his 
fireside was so lowering and old, so crazy, yet so strong, with 
its worm-eaten beams of wood in the ceiling, and its sturdy 
floor shelving dawnward to the great oak chimney-piece ; so 
environed and hemmed in by the pressure of the town, yet so 
remote in fashion, age, and custom ; so quiet, yet so thunder- 
ing with echoes when a distant voice was raised or a door was 
shut, echoes, not confined to the many low passages and empty 
rooms, but rumbling and grumbling till they were stifled in 
the heavy air of the forgotten Crypt where the Norman arches 
were half-buried in the earth. 

You should have seen him in his dwelling about twilight, 
in the dead winter time. 



420 



THE HAUNTED MAX. 



When the wind was blowing, shrill and shrewd, with the 
going down of the blurred sun. When it was just so 

dark, as that 
the forms of 
things were 
indistinct and 
big but not 
wholly lost- 
When sitters 
by the fire 

began to see wild faces and 
figures, mountains and abysses, 
^ ambuscades and armies, in 
? the coals. When people in 
streets bent 
down their 
heads and 
ran before 
the weather. 
When those 
who were 
obliged to 
meet it, were 
stopped at 
angrv cor- 
ners, stung 
by wandering 
snow-flakes 
alighting on 
the lashes of 
their eyes, 
which fell too 




and were blown away too quickly, to leave a 

frozen ground. When windows of private houses closed up 

tight and warm. When lighted gas began to burst forth in 



GHOSTLY SURROUNDINGS. 421 

the busy and the quiet streets fast blackening otherwise. 
When stray pedestrians, shivering along the latter, looked 
down at the glowing fires in kitchens, and sharpened their 
sharp appetites by sniffing up the fragrance of whole miles 
of dinners. 

When travellers by land were bitter cold, and looked 
wearily on gloomy landscapes, rustling and shuddering in the 
blast. When mariners at sea, outlying upon icy yards, were 
tossed and swung above the howling ocean dreadfully. When 
lighthouses, on rocks and headlands, showed solitary and 
watchful ; and benighted sea-birds breasted on against their 
ponderous lanterns, and fell dead. When little readers of 
story-books, by the firelight, trembled to think of Cassim 
Baba cut into quarters, hanging in the Robbers' Cave, or had 
some small misgivings that the fierce little old woman, with 
the crutch, who used to start out of the box in the merchant 
Abudah's bedroom, might, one of these nights, be found upon 
the stairs, in the long, cold, dusky journey up to bed. 

When, in rustic places, the last glimmering of daylight died 
away from the ends of avenues ; and the trees, arching over- 
head, were sullen and black. When, in parks and woods, the 
high wet fern and sodden moss and beds of fallen leaves, and 
trunks of trees, were lost to view, in masses of impenetrable 
shade. When mists arose from dyke, and fen, and river. 
When lights in old halls and in cottage windows, were a 
cheerful sight. When the mill stopped, the wheelwright 
and the blacksmith shut their workshops, the turnpike-gate 
closed, the plough and harrow were left lonely in the fields, 
the labourer and team went home, and/ the striking of the 
church clock had a deeper sound than at noon, and the 
churchyard wicket would be swung no more that night. 

When twilight everywhere released the shadows, prisoned 
up all day, that now closed in and gathered like mustering 
swarms of ghosts. When they stood lowering, in corners of 
rooms, and frowned out from behind half-opened doors. 
When they had full possession of unoccupied apartments. 



422 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

When they danced upon the floors, and walls, and ceilings 
of inhabited chambers, while the fire was low, and withdrew 
like ebbing waters when it sprung into a blaze. When they 
fantastically mocked the shapes of household objects, making 
the nurse an ogress, the rocking-horse a monster, the wonder- 
ing child half-scared and half-amused, a stranger to itself, 
the very tongs upon the hearth, a straddling giant with his 
arms a-kimbo, evidently smelling the blood of Englishmen, 
and wanting to grind people's bones to make his bread. 

When these shadows brought into the minds of older people, 
other thoughts, and showed them different images. When 
they stole from their retreats, in the likenesses of forms and 
faces from the past, from the grave, from the deep, deep gulf, 
where the things that might have been, and never were, are 
always wandering. 

When he sat, as already mentioned, gazing at the fire. 
When, as it rose and fell, the shadows went and came. When 
he took no heed of them, with his bodily eyes ; but, let them 
come or let them go, looked fixedly at the fire. You should 
have seen him, then. 

When the sounds that had arisen with the shadows, and 
come out of their lurking places at the twilight summons, 
seemed to make a deeper stillness all about him. When the 
wind was rumbling in the chimney, and sometimes crooning, 
sometimes howling, in the house. When the old trees outside 
were so shaken and beaten, that one querulous old rook, 
unable to sleep, protested now and then, in a feeble, dozy, 
high-up " Caw ! " When, at intervals, the window trembled, 
the rusty vane upon the turret-top complained, the clock 
beneath it recorded that another quarter of an hour was gone, 
or the fire collapsed and fell in with a rattle. 

When a knock came at his door, in short, as he was 
sitting so, and roused him. 

" Who's that ? " said he. Come in ! " 

Surely there had been no figure leaning on the back of his 
chair, no face looking over it. It is certain that no gliding 



MR. WILLIAM SWIDGER. 423 

footstep touched the floor, as he lifted up his head with a 
start, and spoke. And yet there was no mirror in the room 
on whose surface his own form could have cast its shadow for 
a moment ; and Something had passed darkly and gone ! 

"I'm humbly fearful, sir,"" said a fresh-coloured busy man, 
holding the door open with his foot for the admission of 
himself and a wooden tray he carried, and letting it go again 
by very gentle and careful degrees, when he and the tray 
had got in, lest it should close noisily, " that it's a good bit 
past the time to-night. But Mrs. William has been taken 
off' her legs so often " 

" By the wind ? Ay ! I have heard it rising." 

" By the wind, sir that it's a mercy she got home at 
all. Oh dear, yes. Yes. It was by the wind, Mr. Redlaw. 
By the wind. 11 

He had, by this time, put down the tray for dinner, And 
was employed in lighting the lamp, and spreading a cloth on 
the table. From this employment he desisted in a hurry, to 
stir and feed the fire, and then resumed it ; the lamp he had 
lighted, and the blaze that rose under his hand, so quickly 
changing the appearance of the room, that it seemed as if 
the mere coming in of his fresh red face and active manner 
had made the pleasant alteration. 

" Mrs. AVilliam is of course subject at any time, sir, to be 
taken oft' her balance by the elements. She is not formed 
superior to that" 

" No," returned Mr. Redlaw good-naturedly, though abruptly. 

" No, sir. Mrs. William may be taken off her balance by 
Earth ; as, for example, last Sunday week, when sloppy and 
greasy, and she going out to tea with her newest sister-in-law, 
and having a pride in herself, and wishing to appear perfectly 
spotless though pedestrian. Mrs. William may be taken off 
her balance by Air ; as being once over-persuaded by a friend 
to try a swing at Peckham Fair, which acted on her constitu- 
tion instantly like a steam-boat. Mrs. William may be taken 
off her balance by Fire ; as on a false alarm of engines at her 



42* THE HAUNTED MAN. 

mother's, when she went two miles in her nightcap. Mrs. 
William may be taken off her balance by Water ; as at 
Battersea, when rowed into the piers by her young nephew, 
Charley Swidger junior, aged twelve, which had no idea of 
boats whatever. But these are elements. Mrs. William must 
be taken out of elements for the strength of her character 
to come into play." 

As he stopped for a reply, the reply was " Yes," in the 
same tone as before. 

" Yes, sir. Oh dear, yes ! " said Mr. Swidger, still pro- 
ceeding with his preparations, and checking them off' as he 
made them. "That's where it is, sir. That's what I always 
say myself, sir. Such a many of us Swidgers ! Pepper. W^hy 
there's my father, sir, superannuated keeper and custodian 
of this Institution, eigh-ty-seven year old. He's a Swidger ! 
Spoon." 

"True, William," was the patient and abstracted answer, 
when he stopped again. 

"Yes, sir," said Mr. Swidger. "That's what I always 
say, sir. You may call him the trunk of the tree ! Bread. 
Then you come to his successor, my unworthy self Salt 
and Mrs. William, Swidgers both. Knife and fork. Then 
you come to all my brothers and their families, Swidgers, man 
and woman, boy and girl. Why, what with cousins, uncles, 
aunts, and relationships of this, that, and t'other degree, and 
what-not degree, and marriages, and lyings-in, the Swidgers 
Tumblers might take hold of hands, and make a ring 
round England ! " 

Receiving no reply at all here, from the thoughtful man 
whom he addressed, Mr. William approached him nearer, 
and made a feint of accidentally knocking the table with a 
decanter, to rouse him. The moment he succeeded, he went 
on, as if in great alacrity of acquiescence. 

" Yes, sir ! That's just what I say myself, sir. Mrs. 
William and me have often said so' 'There's Swidgers 
enough, 1 we say, 'without our voluntary contributions, 



MRS. WILLIAM'S MOTHERLY FEELING. 425 

Butter. In fact, sir, my father is a family in himself 
Castors to take care of; and it happens all for the best that 
we have no child of our own, though it's made Mrs. William 
rather quiet-like, too. Quite ready for the fowl and mashed 
potatoes, sir? Mrs. William said she'd dish in ten minutes 
when I left the Lodge?" 

"I iiiii quite ready," said the other, waking as from a 
dream, and walking slowly to and fro. 

" Mrs. William has been at it again, sir ! " said the keej>er, 
as he stood warming a plate at the fire, and pleasantly 
shading his face with it. Mr. Redlaw stopped in his walking, 
and an expression of interest appeared in him. 

" What I always say myself, sir. She will do it ! There's 
a motherly feeling in Mrs. William's breast that must and 
will have went." 

"What has she done?" 

" Why, sir, not satisfied with being a sort of mother to 
all the young gentlemen that come up from a wariety of 
parts, to attend your courses of lectures at this ancient 
foundation it's surprising how stone-chaney catches the heat 
this frosty weather, to be sure ! " Here he turned the plate, 
and cooled his fingers. 

"Well? "said Mr. Redlaw. 

" That's just what I say myself, sir," returned Mr. William, 
speaking over his shoulder, as if in ready and delighted 
assent. " That is exactly where it is, sir ! There ain't one 
of our students but appears to regard Mrs. William in that 
light. Every day, right through the course, they puts their 
heads into the Lodge, one after another,, and have all got 
something to tell her, or something to ask her. 'Swidge' 
is the appellation by which they speak of Mrs. William in 
general, among themselves, I'm told ; but that's what I say, 
sir. Better be called ever so far out of your name, if it's 
clone in real liking, than have it made ever so much of, 
and not cared about! What's a name for? To know a 
pei-son by. If Mrs. William is known by something better 



426 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

than her name I allude to Mrs. William's qualities and 
disposition never mind her name, though it is Swidgcr, 
hy rights. Let 'em call her Swidge, Widge, Bridge Lord ! 
London Bridge, Blackfriars, Chelsea, Putney, Waterloo, or 
Hammersmith Suspension if they like ! " 

The close of this triumphant oration brought him and the 
plate to the table, upon which he half laid and half dropped 
it, with a lively sense of its being thoroughly heated, just 
as the subject of his praises entered the room, bearing 
another tray and a lantern, and followed by a venerable old 
man with long grey hair. 

Mrs. William, like Mr. William, was a simple, innocent- 
looking person, in whose smooth cheeks the cheerful red of 
her husband's official waistcoat was very pleasantly repeated. 
But whereas Mr. William's light hair stood on end all over 
his head, and seemed to draw his eyes up with it in an 
excess of bustling readiness for anything, the dark brown hair 
of Mrs. William was carefully smoothed down, and waved 
away under a trim tidy cap, in the most exact and quiet 
manner imaginable. Whereas Mr. William's very trousers 
hitched themselves up at the ankles, as if it were not in 
their iron-grey nature to rest without looking about them, 
Mrs. William's neatly-flowered skirts red and white, like 
her own pretty face were as composed and orderly, as if 
the very wind that blew so hard out of doors could not 
disturb one of their folds. Whereas his coat had something 
of a fly-away and half-ofF appearance about the collar and 
breast, her little bodice was so placid and neat, that there 
should have been protection for her, in it, had she needed 
any, with the roughest people. Who could have had the 
heart to make so calm, a bosom swell with grief, or throb 
with fear, or flutter with a thought of shame ! To whom 
would its repose and peace have not appealed against 
disturbance, like the innocent slumber of a child ! 

" Punctual, of course, Milly," said her husband, relieving 
her of the tray, "or it wouldn't be you. Here's Mrs, 



MILLY AND THE OLD MAN. 427 

William, sir! He looks lonelier than ever to-night," 
whispering to his wife, as he was taking the tray, "and 
ghostlier altogether. 11 

Without any show of hurry or noise, or any show of herself 
even, she was so calm and quiet, Millv 
set the dishes she had brought upon the 
table, Mr. William, after much clatter- 
ing and running about, having only 
gained possession of a butter-boat of 
gravy, which he stood ready to serve. 

"What is that the old man has in 
his arms ? "" asked Mr. Redlaw, as he sat 
down to his solitary meal. 

"Holly, sir," replied the quiet 
voice of Milly. 

" That's what I say myself, sir," 
interposed Mr. William, 
striking in with the 
butter - boat. " Berries ; 
is so seasonable to the 
time of year ! Brown 
gravy ! " 

"Another Christmas come, 
another year gone ! " mur- 
mured the Chemist, with a 
gloomy sigh. " More figures 
in the lengthening sum of 
recollection that we work 
and work at to our torment, 
till Death idly jumbles all 
together, and rubs all out. 
So, Philip ! " breaking off, 
and raising his voice as he addressed the old man standing 
apart, with his glistening burden in his arms, from which 
the quiet Mrs. W r illiam took small branches, which she noise- 
lessly trimmed with her scissors, and decorated the room with, 




428 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

while her aged father-in-law looked on much interested in 
the ceremony. 

" My duty to you, sir," returned the old man. " Should 
have spoke before, sir, but know your ways, Mr. Redlaw 
proud to say and wait till spoke to ! Merry Christmas, 
sir, and happy New Year, and many of 'em. Have had a 
pretty many of 'em myself ha, ha ! and may take the 
liberty of wishing 'em. I'm eighty-seven ! " 

"Have you had so many that were merry and happy?" 
asked the other. 

" Ay, sir, ever so many," returned the old man. 

" Is his memory impaired with age ? It is to be expected 
now," said Mr. Redlaw, turning to the son, and speaking 
lower. 

" Not a morsel of it, sir," replied Mr. William. That's 
exactly what I say myself, sir. There never was such a 
memory as my father's. He's the most wonderful man in 
the world. He don't know what forgetting means. It's 
the very observation I'm always making to Mi's. William, 
sir, if you'll believe me ! " 

Mr. Swidger, in his polite desire to seem to acquiesce at all 
events, delivered this as if there were no iota of contradiction, 
in it, and it were all said in unbounded and unqualified assent. 

The Chemist pushed his plate away, and, rising from the 
table, walked across the room to where the old man stood 
looking at a little sprig of holly in his hand. 

" It recalls the time when many of those years were old 
and new, then ? " he said, observing him attentively, and 
touching him on the shoulder. " Does it ? " 

" Oh many, many ! " said Philip, half awaking from his 
reverie. " I'm eighty-seven ! " 

"Merry and happy, was it?" asked the Chemist, in a 
low voice. " Merry and happy, old man ? " 

" May-be as high as that, no higher," said the old man, 
holding out his hand a little way above the level of his 
knee, and looking retrospectively at his questioner, "when 



MERRY AND HAPPY. 429 

I first remember 'em! Cold, sunshiny day it was, out 
a-walking, when some one it was my mother as sure as you 
stand there, though I don't know what her blessed face was 
like, for she took ill and died that Christmas-timetold me 
they were food for birds. The pretty little fellow thought 
that's me, you understand that birds' eyes were so 
bright, perhaps, because the berries that they lived on in 
the winter were so bright. I recollect that. And I'm eighty- 
seven ! " 

" Merry and happy ! " mused the other, bending his dark 
eyes upon the stooping figure, with a smile of compassion. 
" Merry and happy and remember well ! " 

"Ay, ay, ay!" resumed the old man, catching the last 
words. " I remember 'em well in my school time, year after 
year, and all the merry-making that used to come along 
with them. I was a strong chap then, Mr. Redlaw; and, 
if you'll believe me, hadn't my match at foot-ball within ten 
mile. Where's my son William ? Hadn't my match at 
foot-ball, William, within ten mile ! " 

" That's what I always say, father ! " returned the son 
promptly, and with great respect. " You ARE a Swidger, if 
ever there was one of the family ! "" 

" Dear ! " said the old man, shaking his head as he again 
looked at the holly. " His mother my son William's my 
youngest son and I, have sat among 'em all, boys and girls, 
little children and babies, many a year, when the berries like 
these were not shining half so bright all round us, as their 
bright faces. Many of 'em are gone; she's gone; and mv 
son George (our eldest, who was her pride more than all the 
rest !) is fallen very low : but I can see them, when I look 
here, alive and healthy, as they used to be in those days ; and 
I can see him, thank God, in his innocence. It's a blessed 
thing to me, at eighty-seven." 

The keen look that had been fixed upon him with so much 
earnestness, had gradually sought the ground. 

"When my circumstances got to be not so good as 



430 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

formerly, through not being honestly dealt by, and I first 
come here to be custodian, 1 ' said the old man, " which 
was upwards of fifty years ago where's my son William ? 
More than half a century ago, William ! " 

" That's what I say, father," replied the son, as promptly 
and dutifully as before, "that's exactly where it is. Two 
times ought's an ought, and twice five ten, and there's a 
hundred of 'em." 

" It was quite a pleasure to know that one of our founders 
or more correctly speaking," said the old man, with a great 
glory in his subject and his knowledge of it, "one of the 
learned gentlemen that helped endow us in Queen Eliza- 
beth's time, for we were founded afore her day left in his 
will, among the other bequests he made us, so much to buy 
holly, for garnishing the walls and windows, come Christmas. 
There was something homely and friendly in it. Being but 
strange here, then, and coming at Christmas-time, we took 
a liking for his very picter that hangs in what used to be, 
anciently, afore our ten poor gentlemen commuted for an 
annual stipend in money, our great Dinner Hall. A sedate 
gentleman in a peaked beard, with a ruff round his neck, and 
a scroll below him, in old English letters, i Lord ! keep my 
memory green ! ' You know all about him, Mr. Redlaw ? " 

" I know the portrait hangs there, Philip." 

" Yes, sure, it's the second on the right, above the panelling. 
I was going to say he has helped to keep my memory green, 
I thank him ; for, going round the building every year, as 
I'm a-doing now, and freshening up the bare rooms with 
these branches and berries, freshens up my bare old brain. 
One year brings back another, and that year another, and 
those others numbers! At last, it seems to me as if the 
birth-time of our Lord was the birth-time of all I have 
ever had affection for, or mourned for, or delighted in, and 
they're a pretty many, for I'm eighty-seven ! " 

" Merry and happy," murmured Redlaw to himself. 

The room began to darken strangely. 



EMBARRASSMENT OF MR. SWIDGEH. 431 

" So you see, sir," pursued old Philip, whose hale wintry 
cheek had warmed into a ruddier glow, and whose blue eyes 
had brightened while he spoke, " I have plenty to keep, when 
I keep this present season. Now, where's my quiet Mouse? 
Chattering"^ the sin of my time of life, and there's half the 
building to do yet, if the cold don't freeze us first, or the 
wind don't blow us away, or the darkness don't swallow us up. 11 

The quiet Mouse had brought her calm face to his side, 
and silently taken his arm, before he finished speaking. 

" Come away, my dear," said the old man. " Mr. Redlaw 
won't settle to his dinner, otherwise, till it's cold as the 
winter. I hope you'll excuse me rambling on, sir, and I wish 
you good night, and, once again, a merry " 

" Stay ! " said Mr. Redlaw, resuming his place at the table, 
more, it would have seemed from his manner, to reassure the 
old keeper, than in any remembrance of his own appetite. 
"Spare me another moment, Philip. William, you were 
going to tell me something to your excellent wife's honour. 
It will not be disagreeable to her to hear you praise her. 
What was it ? " 

"Why, that's where it is, you see, sir," returned Mr. 
William Swidger, looking towards his wife in considerable 
embarrassment. " Mrs. William's got her eye upon me." 

" But you're not afraid of Mrs. William's t-\ < :- " 

" Why, no, sir," returned Mr. Swidger, " that's what I say 
myself. It wasn't made to be afraid of. It wouldn't have 
been made so mild, if that was the intention. But I wouldn't 
like to Milly ! him, you know. Down in the Buildings." 

Mr. William, standing behind the tajble, and rummaging 
disconcertedly among the objects upon it, directed persuasive 
glances at Mrs. William, and secret jerks of his head and 
thumb at Mr. Redlaw, as alluring her towards him. 

" Him, you know, my love," said Mr. William. " Down in 
the Buildings. Tell, my dear ! You're the works of Shak- 
speare in comparison with myself. Down in the Buildings, 
you know, my love. Student." 



432 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

" Student ?" repeated Mr. Reel law, raising his head. 

"That's what I say, sir I 11 cried Mr. William, in the utmost 
animation of assent. " If i-t wasn't the poor student down 
in the Buildings, why should you wish to hear it from Mrs. 
William's lips? Mrs. William, my dear Buildings." 

"I didn't know," said Milly, with a quiet frankness, free 
from any haste or confusion, "that William had said any- 
thing ahout it, or I wouldn't have come. I asked him not 
to. It's a sick young gentleman, sir and very poor, I am 
afraid who is too ill to go home this holiday-time, and lives, 
unknown to any one, in but a common kind of lodging for 
a gentleman, down in Jerusalem Buildings. That's all, sir." 

" Why have I never heard of him ? " said the Chemist, 
rising hurriedly. "Why has he not made his situation 
known to me ? Sick ! give me my hat and cloak. Poor ! 
what house ? what number ? "" 

"Oh, you mustn't go there 3 sir,"" said Milly, leaving her 
father-in-law, and calmly confronting him with her collected 
little face and folded hands. 

" Not go there ? " 

"Oh dear, no!" said Milly, shaking her head as at a 
most manifest and self-evident impossibility. " It couldn't be 
thought of I" 

" What do you mean ? Why not ? " 

" Why you see, sir," said Mr. William Swidger, persuasively 
and confidentially, "that's what I say. Depend upon it, the 
young gentleman would never have made his situation known 
to one of his own sex. Mrs. William has got into his con- 
fidence, but that's quite different. They all confide in Mrs. 
AVilliam ; they all trust her. A man, sir, couldn't have got 
a whisper out of him; but woman, sir, and Mrs. William 
combined ! " 

"There is good sense and delicacy in what you say, 
William," returned Mr. Redlaw, observant of the gentle and 
composed face at his shoulder. And laying his finger on his 
Up, he secretly put his purse into her hand. 



THE POOR STUDENT. 4:5:3 

"Oh dear no, sir!" cried Milly, giving it back again. 
" Worse and worse ! Couldn't be dreamed of ! " 

Such a staid matter-of-fact housewife she was, and so 
unruffled by the momentary haste of this rejection, that, an 
instant afterwards, she was tidily picking up a few leaves 
which had strayed from between her scissors and her apron, 
when she had arranged the hollv. 

Finding, when she rose from her stooping posture, that 
Mr. Redlaw was still regarding her with doubt and astonish- 
ment, she quietly repeated looking about the while, for any 
other fragments that might have escaped her observation : 

" Oh dear no, sir ! He said that of all the world he would 
not be known to you, or receive help from you though he 
is a student in your class. I have made no terms of secrecy 
with you, but I trust to your honour completely."" 

" Why did he say so ? " 

" Indeed I can't tell, sir, 1 ' said Milly, after thinking a little, 
" because I am not at all clever, you know ; and I wanted to 
be useful to him in making things neat and comfortable about 
him, and employed myself that way. But I know he is poor, 
and lonely, and I think he is somehow neglected too. How 
dark it is ! " 

The room had darkened more and more. There was a very 
heavy gloom and shadow gathering behind the Chemist's chair. 

" What more about him ? " he asked. 

" He is engaged to be married when he can afford it," said 
Milly, " and is studying, I think, to qualify himself to earn 
a living. I have seen, a long time, that he has studied hard 
and denied himself much. How very dark it is ! " 

"It's turned colder, too," said the old man, rubbing his 
hands. "There's a chill and dismal feeling in the room. 
Where's my son William ? Wiliam, my boy, turn the lamp, 
and rouse the fire ! " 

Milly's voice resumed, like quiet music very softly played : 

"He muttered in his broken sleep yesterday afternoon, 
after talking to me" (this was to herself) "about some one 

2 F 



434- THE HAUNTED MAN. 

dead, and some great wrong done that could never be for- 
gotten; but whether to him or to another person, I don't 
know. Not by him, I am sure." 

" And, in short, Mrs. William, you see which she wouldn't 
say herself, Mr. Redlaw, if she was to stop here till the new 
year after this next one " said Mr. William, coming up to 
him to speak in his ear, " has done him worlds of good ! 
Bless you, worlds of good ! All at home just the same as 
ever my father made as snug and comfortable not a crumb 
of litter to be found in the house, if you were to offer fifty 
pound ready money for it Mrs. William apparently never 
out of the way yet Mrs. William backwards and forwards, 
backwards and forwards, up and down, up and down, a 
mother to him ! " 

The room turned darker and colder, and the gloom and 
shadow gathering behind the chair was heavier. 

"Not content with this, sir, Mrs. William goes and finds, 
this very night, when she was coming home (why if s not 
above a couple of hours ago), a creature more like a young 
wild beast than a young child, shivering upon a door-step. 
What does Mrs. William do, but brings it home to dry it, 
and feed it, and keep it till our old Bounty of food and 
flannel is given away, on Christmas morning ! If it ever felt 
a fire before, it's as much as ever it did ; for it's sitting in 
the old Lodge chimney, staring at ours as if its ravenous 
eyes would never shut again. It's sitting there, at least," 
said Mr. William, correcting himself, on reflection, "unless 
it's bolted ! " 

" Heaven keep her happy ! " said the Chemist aloud, " and 
you too, Philip ! and you, William ! I must consider what 
to do in this. I may desire to see this student, I'll not 
detain you longer now. Good night ! " 

"I thamVee, sir, I thamVee!" said the old man, "for 
Mouse, and for my son William, and for myself. Where's 
my son William ? William, you take the lantern and go on 
first, through them long dark passages, as you did last year 



HIS DREAD COMPANION. 435 

and the year afore. Ha, ha! / remember though Tm 
eighty -seven ! Lord, keep my memory green ! " It's a verv 
good prayer, Mr. Redlaw, that of the learned gentleman in 
the peaked beard, with a ruff' round his neck hangs up, 
second on the right above the panelling, in what used to be, 
afore our ten poor gentlemen commuted, our great Dinner 
Hall. ' Lord, keep my memory green ! ' It's very good and 
pious, sir. Amen ! Amen ! " 

As they passed out and shut the heavy door, which, 
however carefully withheld, fired a long train of thunder- 
ing reverberations when it shut at last, the room turned 
darker. 

As he fell a-musing in his chair alone, the healthy holly 
withered on the wall, and dropped dead branches. 

As the gloom and shadow thickened behind him, in that 
place where it had been gathering so darkly, it took, by 
slow degrees, or out of it there came, by some unreal, un- 
substantial process not to be traced by any human sense, 
an awful likeness of himself. 

Ghastly and cold, colourless in its leaden face and hands, 
but with his features, and his bright eyes, and his grizzled 
hair, and dressed in the gloomy shadow of his dress, it came 
into his terrible appearance of existence, motionless, without 
a sound. As he leaned his arm upon the elbow of his chair, 
ruminating before the fire, it leaned upon the chair-back, close 
above him, with its appalling copy of his face looking where 
his face looked, and bearing the expression his face bore. 

This, then, was the Something that had passed and gone 
already. This was the dread companion /of the haunted man ! 

It took, for some moments, no more apparent heed of him, 
than he of it. The Christmas Waits were playing somewhere 
in the distance, and, through his thoughtfulness, he seemed to 
listen to the music. It seemed to listen too. 

At length he spoke; without moving or lifting up his face. 

" Here again ! " he said. 

" Here again ! " replied the Phantom. 



4-36 



THE HAUNTED MAN. 



" I see you in the fire," said the haunted man ; " I hear you 
in music, in the wind, in the dead stillness of the night/ 1 

The Phantom moved its head, assenting. 

" Why do you come, to haunt me thus ? " 
" I come as I am called," replied the Ghost. 




"No. Unbidden," exclaimed the Chemist. 
" Unbidden be it, 11 said the Spectre. " It is enough. I 
am here. 11 



MORBID REMEMBRANCE. 437 

Hitherto the light of the fire had shone on the two faces 
if the dread lineaments behind the chair might be called a 
face both addressed towards it, as at first, and neither look- 
ing at the other. But, now, the haunted man turned, sud- 
denly, and stared upon the Ghost. The Ghost, as sudden in 
its motion, passed to before the chair, and stared on him. 

The living man, and the animated image of himself dead, 
might so have looked, the one upon the other. An awful 
survey, in a lonely and remote part of an empty old pile of 
building, on a winter night, with the loud wind going by 
upon its journey of mystery whence, or whither, no man 
knowing since the world began and the stars, in unimagin- 
able millions, glittering through it, from eternal space, 
where the world's bulk is as a grain, and its hoary age is 
infancy. 

" Look upon me ! " said the Spectre. " I am he, neglected 
in my youth, and miserably poor, who strove and suffered, 
and still strove and suffered, until I hewed out knowledge 
from the mine where it was buried, and made rugged steps 
thereof, for my worn feet to rest and rise on." 

" I am that man," returned the Chemist. 

"No mother's self-denying love," pursued the Phantom, 
"no father's counsel, aided me. A stranger came into my 
father's place when I was but a child, and I was easily an 
alien from my mother's heart. My parents, at the best, were 
of that sort whose care soon ends, and whose duty is soon 
done ; who cast their offspring loose, early, as birds do theirs ; 
and, if they do well, claim the merit; and, if ill, the pity." 

It paused, and seemed to tempt and goad him with its look, 
and with the manner of its speech, and with its smile. 

* I am he," pursued the Phantom, " who, in this struggle 
upward, found a friend. I made him won him bound him 
to me ! We worked together, side by side. All the love and 
confidence that in my earlier youth had^ had no outlet, and 
found no expression, I bestowed on him." 

" Not all," said Redlaw, hoarsely. 



438 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

" No, not all," returned the Phantom. " I had a sister." 

The haunted man, with his head resting on his hands, 
replied "I had! 1 ' The Phantom, with an evil smile, drew 
closer to the chair, and resting its chin upon its folded 
hands, its folded hands upon the back, and looking down into 
his face with searching eyes, that seemed instinct with fire, 
went on : 

"Such glimpses of the light of home as I had ever known, 
had streamed from her. How young she was, how 'fair, how 
loving ! I took her to the first poor roof that I was master 
of, and made it rich. She came into the darkness of my life, 
and made it bright. She is before me ! " 

" I saw her, in the fire, but now. I hear her in music, in 
the wind, in the dead stillness of the night," 11 returned the 
haunted man. 

" Did he love her ? " said the Phantom, echoing his con- 
templative tone. " I think he did once. I am sure he did. 
Better had she loved him less less secretly, less dearly, from 
the shallower depths of a more divided heart ! 11 

" Let me forget it, 11 said the Chemist, with an angry motion 
of his hand. " Let me blot it from my memory ! " 

The Spectre, without stirring, and with its unwinking, cruel 
eyes still fixed upon his face, went on : 

" A dream, like hers, stole upon my own life. 1 ' 

" It did," said Redlaw. 

"A love, as like hers, 11 pursued the Phantom, "as my 
inferior nature might cherish, arose in my own heart. I was 
too poor to bind its object to my fortune then, by any thread 
of promise or entreaty. I loved her far too well, to seek to 
do it. But, more than ever I had striven in my life, I strove 
to climb ! Only an inch gained, brought me something nearer 
to the height. I toiled up ! In the late pauses of my labour 
at that time my sister (sweet companion !) still sharing with 
me the expiring embers and the cooling hearth, when day 
was breaking, what pictures of the future did I see ! " 

" I saw them, in the fire, but now, 11 he murmured. " They 



A SORROW AND A WRONG. 439 

come back to me in music, in the wind, in the dead stillness 
of the night, in the revolving years." 

"Pictures of my own domestic life, in after-time, with 
her who was the inspiration of my toil. Pictures of my sister, 
made the wife of my dear friend, on equal terms for he had 
some inheritance, we none pictures of our sobered age and 
mellowed happiness, and of the golden links, extending back 
so far, that should bind us, and our children, in a radiant 
garland, 1 ' said the Phantom. 

"Pictures," said the haunted man, "that were delusions. 
Why is it my doom to remember them too well ! " 

" Delusions," echoed the Phantom in its changeless voice, 
and glaring on him with its changeless eyes. " For my friend 
(in whose breast my confidence was locked as in my own), 
passing between me and the centre of the system of my hopes 
and struggles, won her to himself, and shattered my frail 
universe. My sister, doubly dear, doubly devoted, doubly 
cheerful in my home, lived on to see me famous, and my old 
ambition so rewarded when its spring was broken, and then 

" Then died," he interposed. " Died, gentle as ever, happy, 
and with no concern but for her brother. Peace ! " 

The Phantom watched him silently. 

" Remembered ! " said the haunted man, after a pause. 
"Yes. So well remembered, that even now, when years have 
passed, and nothing is more idle or more visionary to me than 
the boyish love so long outlived, I think of it with sympathy, 
as if it were a younger brother's or a son's. Sometimes I even 
wonder when her heart first inclined to him, and how it had 
been affected towards me. Not lightly, once, I think. But 
that is nothing. Early unhappiness, a wound from a hand I 
loved and trusted, and a loss that nothing can replace, out- 
live such fancies." 

" Thus," said the Phantom, " I bear within me a Sorrow and 
a Wrong. Thus I prey upon myself. Thus, memory is my 
curse; and, if I could forget my sorrow and my wrong, I 
would ! " 



440 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

" Mocker ! " said the Chemist, leaping up, and making, with 
a wrathful hand, at the throat of his other self. " Why have 
I always that taunt in my ears ? " 

" Forbear ! " exclaimed the Spectre in an awful voice. " Lay 
a hand on me, and die ! " 

He stopped midway, as if its words had paralysed him, and 
stood looking on it. It had glided from him ; it had its arm 
raised high in warning ; and a smile passed over its unearthly 
features as it reared its dark figure in triumph. 

"If I could forget my sorrow and wrong, I would," the 
Ghost repeated. " If I could forget my sorrow and wrong, I 
would ! " 

" Evil spirit of myself, 11 returned the haunted man, in a 
low, trembling tone, " my life is darkened by that incessant 
whisper."" 

" It is an echo, 1 ' said the Phantom. 

" If it be an echo of my thoughts as now, indeed, I know 
it is," rejoined the haunted man, " why should I, therefore, 
be tormented ? It is not a selfish thought. I suffer it to range 
beyond myself. All men and women have their sorrows, 
most of them their wrongs; ingratitude, and sordid jealousy, 
and interest, besetting all degrees of life. Who would not 
forget their sorrows and their wrongs ? " 

" Who would not, truly, and be the happier and better for 
it ? " said the Phantom. 

" These revolutions of years, which we commemorate,' 11 pro- 
ceeded Redlaw, " what do tliey recall ! Are there any minds 
in which they do not re-awaken some sorrow, or some trouble ? 
What is the remembrance of the old man who was here to- 
night ? A tissue of sorrow and trouble." 

"But common natures," said the Phantom, with its evil 
smile upon its glassy face, " unenlightened minds and ordinary 
spirits, do not feel or reason on these things like men of 
higher cultivation and profounder thought." 

"Tempter," answered Redlaw, "whose hollow look and 
voice I dread more than words can express, and from whom 



THE GIFT OFFERED. 441 

some dim foreshadowing of greater fear is stealing over me 
while I speak, I hear again an echo of my own mind." 

" Receive it as a proof that I am powerful," returned the 
Ghost. " Hear what I offer ! Forget the sorrow, wrong, and 
trouble you have known ! " 

" Forget them ! " he repeated. 

" I have the power to cancel their remembrance to leave 
but very faint, confused traces of them, that will die out 
soon," returned the Spectre. "Say ! It is done?" 

" Stay ! '" cried the haunted man, arresting by a terrified 
gesture the uplifted hand. "I tremble with distrust and 
doubt of you ; and the dim fear you cast upon me deepens 
into a nameless horror I can hardly bear. I would not deprive 
myself of any kindly recollection, or any sympathy that is 
good for me, or others. What shall I lose, if I assent to 
this ? What else will pass from my remembrance ? " 

" No knowledge ; no result of study ; nothing but the 
intertwisted chain of feelings and associations, each in its turn 
dependent on, and nourished by, the banished recollections. 
Those will go." 

"Are they so many?" said the haunted man, reflecting in 
alarm. 

"They have been wont to show themselves in the fire, in 
music, in the wind, in the dead stillness of the night, in the 
revolving years," returned the Phantom scornfully- 

" In nothing else ? " 

The Phantom held its peace. 

But, having stood before him, silent, for a little while, it 
moved towards the fire ; then stopped. ' 

" Decide ! " it said, " before the opportunity is lost ! " 

" A moment ! I call Heaven to witness," said the agitated 
man, " that I have never been a hater of my kind, never 
morose, indifferent, or hard, to anything around me. If, 
living here alone, I have made too much of all that was and 
might have been, and too little of what is, the evil, I believe, 
has fallen on me, and not on others. But, if there were 



442 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

poison in my body, should I not, possessed of antidotes and 
knowledge how to use them, use them ? If there be poison 
in my mind, and through this fearful shadow I can cast it 
out, shall I not cast it out?" 

" Say," said the Spectre, " is it done ? " 

; " A moment longer ! " he answered hurriedly. " I would 
forget it if I could ! Have / thought that, alone, or has 
it been the thought of thousands upon thousands, genera- 
tion after generation ? All human memory is fraught with 
sorrow and trouble. My memory is as the memory of 
other men, but other men have not this choice. Yes, I close 
the bargain. Yes ! I WILL forget my sorrow, wrong, and 
trouble ! " 

" Say," said the Spectre, " is it done ? " 

Itis!" 

"Ix is. And take this with you, man whom I here re- 
nounce ! The gift that I have given, you shall give again, 
go where you will. AVithout recovering yourself the power 
that you have yielded up, you shall henceforth destroy its 
like in all whom you approach. Your wisdom has discovered 
that the memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble is the lot of 
all mankind, and that mankind would be the happier, in its 
other memories, without it. Go ! Be its benefactor ! Freed 
from such remembrance, from this hour, carry involuntarily 
the blessing of such freedom with you. Its diffusion is 
inseparable and inalienable from you. Go ! Be happy in 
the good you have won, and in the good you do ! " 

The Phantom, which had held its bloodless hand above 
him while it spoke, as if in some unholy invocation, or some 
ban ; and which had gradually advanced its eyes so close to 
his, that he could see how they did not participate in the 
terrible smile upon its face, but were a fixed, unalterable, 
steady horror; melted before him and was gone. 

As he stood rooted to the spot, possessed by fear and 
wonder, and imagining he heard repeated in melancholy 
echoes, dying away fainter and fainter, the words, "Destroy 



A BABY SAVAGK. 443 

its like in all whom you approach!" a shrill cry reached his 
ears. It. came, not from the passage beyond the door, but 
from another part of the old building, and sounded like the 
cry of some one in the dark who had lost the way. 

He looked confusedly upon his hands and limbs, as if to 
be assured of his identity, and then shouted in reply, loudly 
and wildly ; for there was a strangeness and terror upon him, 
as if he too were lost. 

The cry responding, and being nearer, he caught up the 
lamp, and raised a heavy curtain in the wall, by which he 
was accustomed to pass into and out of the theatre where he 
lectured, which adjoined his room. Associated with youth 
and animation, and a high amphitheatre of faces which his 
entrance charmed to interest in a moment, it was a ghostly 
place when all this life was faded out of it, and stared upon 
him like an emblem of Death. 

" Halloa ! " he cried. " Halloa ! This way ! Come to the 
light ! " When, as he held the curtain with one hand, and 
with the other raised the lamp and tried to pierce the gloom 
that filled the place, something rushed past him into the 
room like a wild-cat, and crouched down in a comer. 
"What is it?" he said, hastily. 

He might have asked "What is it?" even had he seen it 
well, as presently he did when he stood looking at it gathered 
up in its corner. 

A bundle of tatters, held together by a hand, in size and 
form almost an infant's, but, in its greedy, desperate little 
clutch, a bad old man's. A face rounded and smoothed by 
some half-dozen years, but pinched and' twisted by the ex- 
periences of a life. Bright eyes, but not youthful. Naked 
feet, beautiful in their childish delicacy, ugly in the blood 
and dirt that cracked upon them. A baby savage, a young 
monster, a child who had never been a child, a creature who 
might live to take the outward form of man, but who, within, 
would live and perish a mere beast. 

Used, already, to be worried and hunted like 'a beast, 



444 



THE HAUNTED MAN. 



the boy crouched down as he was looked at, and looked 
back again, and interposed his arm to ward off the ex- 
pected blow. 




" 111 bite," he said, " if you hit me ! " 

The time had been, and not many minutes since, when such 
a sight as this would have wrung the Chemist's heart. He 
looked upon it now, coldly; but, with a heavy effort to 



WITHOUT A NAME. 445 

remember something he did not know what he asked the 
boy what he did there, and whence he came. 

" Where's the woman ? " he replied. " I want to find the 
woman." 

"Who?" 

"The woman. Her that brought me here, and set me by 
the large fire. She was so long gone, that I went to look 
for her, and lost myself. I don't want you. I want the 
woman." 

He made a spring, so suddenly, to get away, that the dull 
sound of his naked feet upon the floor was near the curtain, 
when Redlaw caught him by his rags. 

"Come! you let me go!* muttered the boy, .struggling, 
and clenching his teeth. " I've done nothing to you. Let 
me go, will you, to the woman ! " 

" That is not the way. There is a nearer one," said Redlaw, 
detaining him, in the same blank effort to remember some 
association that ought, of right, to bear upon this monstrous 
object. "What is your name?" 

"Got none." 

"Where do you live?" 

"Live! What's that?" 

The boy shook his hair from his eye> to look at him for 
a moment, and then, twisting round his legs and wrestling 
with him, broke again into his repetition of "You let me 
go, will you ? I want to find the woman." 

The Chemist led him to the door. "This way," he said, 
looking at him still confusedly, but with repugnance and 
avoidance, growing out of his coldness. '* Fll take you to her.* 

The sharp eyes in the child's head, wandering round the 
room, lighted on the table where the remnants of the dinner 
were. 

" Give me some of that ! " he said, covetously. 

"Has she not fed you?" 

" I shall be hungry again to-morrow, sha'n't I ? Ain't I 
hungry even* day ? " 



446 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

Finding himself released, he bounded at the table like ;some> 
small animal of prey, and hugging to his breast bread and 
meat, and his own rags, all together, said : 

" There ! Now take me to the woman ! " 

As the Chemist, with a new-born dislike to touch him, 
sternly motioned him to follow, and was going out of the 
door, he trembled and stopped. 

"The gift that I have given, you shall give again, go 
where you will ! " 

The Phantom's words were blowing in the wind, and the 
wind blew chill upon him. 

" Til not go there, to-night," he murmured faintly. 

" Til go nowhere to-night. Boy ! straight down this long- 
arched passage, and past the great dark door into the yard, 
you see the fire shining on the window there. 11 

" The woman's fire ? " inquired the boy. 

He nodded, and the naked feet had sprung away. He came 
back with his lamp, locked his door hastily, and sat down 
in his chair, covering his face like one who was frightened 
at himself. 

For now he was, indeed, alone. Alone, alone. 



CHAPTER II. 

THK GIFT DIFFUSED. 

A SMALL man sat in a small parlour, partitioned off from a 
small shop by a small screen, pasted all over with small scraps 
of newspapers. In company with the small man, was almost 
any amount of small children you may please to name at 
least, it seemed so; they made, in that very limited sphere 
of action, such an imposing effect, in point of numbers. 

Of these small frv, two had, by some strong machinery, 
been got into bed in a corner, where they might have reposed 
snugly enough in the sleep of innocence, but for a consti- 
tutional propensity to keep awake, and also to scuffle in and 
out of bed. The immediate occasion of these predatory dashes 
at the waking world, was the construction of an oyster- 
shell wall in a corner, by two other youths of tender age ; on 
which fortification the two in bed made harassing descents 
(like those accursed Picts and Scots who beleaguer the early 
historical studies of most young Britons), and then withdrew 
to their own territory. 

In addition to the stir attendant on these inroads, and the 
retorts of the invaded, who pursued hotly, and made lunges 
at the bed-clothes, under which the marauders took refuge, 
another little boy, in another little bed, contributed his mite 
of confusion to the family stock, by casting his boots upon 
the waters; in other words, by launching these and several 
small objects inoffensive in themselves, though of a hard 



448 



THE HAUNTED MAN. 



substance considered as missiles, at the disturbers of his 
repose, who were not slow to return these compliments. 

Besides which, another little boy the biggest there, but 
still little was tottering to and fro, bent on one side, and 
considerably affected in his knees by the weight of a large 
baby, which he was supposed, by a fiction that obtains 
sometimes in sanguine families, to be hushing to sleep. But 
oh ! the inexhaustible regions of contemplation and watch- 
fulness into which this baby^s eyes were then only beginning 
to compose themselves to stare, over his unconscious shoulder ! 
It was a very Moloch of a baby, on whose insatiate altar 
the whole existence of this particular young brother was 
offered up a daily sacrifice. Its personality may be said to 
have consisted in its never being quiet, in any one place, 
for five consecutive minutes, and never going to sleep when 
required. "Tetterby's baby" was as well known in the 

neighbourhood 
as the postman 
or the pot-boy. 
It roved from 
door-step to 
door-step, in 
the arms of 
little Johnny 
Tetterby, and 
lagged heavily 
at the rear of 
troops of juve- 
niles who fol- 
lowed the 
Tumblers or 
the Monkey, 

and came up, all on one side, a little too late for everything 
that was attractive, from Monday morning until Saturday 
night. Wherever childhood congregated to play, there wa^ 
little Moloch making Johnny fag and toil. Wherever Johnny 




asleep, and must be watched. 



TETTERBY AND CO. 449 

desired to stay, little Moloch became fractious, and would 
not remain. Whenever Johnny wanted to go out, Moloch 

Whenever Johnny wanted 
to stay at home, 
. ,, . Moloch was 

&. awake, and must 
k be taken out. 
Yet Johnny was 
verily persuaded 
that it was a 
faultless baby, 
without its peer 
in the realm of 
England ; and 
was quite con- 
tent to catch 
meekglimpsesof 
things in general 
from behind its 
skirts, or over 
its limp flapping 
bonnet, and to 

go staggering about with it like a 
very little porter with a very large parcel, 
which was not directed to anybody, 
and could never be delivered anywhere. 

The small man who sat in the small 
parlour, making fruitless attempts to read 
his newspaper peaceably in the midst of this 
disturbance, was the father of the family, 
and the chief of the firm described in the 
inscription over the little shop front, by the 
name and title of A. TETTERBY AXD Co., NEWSMEN*. Indeed, 
strictly speaking, he was the only personage answering to that 
designation ; as Co. was a mere poetical abstraction, altogether 
baseless and impersonal. 

go 




450 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

Tetterby's was the corner shop in Jerusalem Buildings. 
There was a good show of literature in the window, chiefly 
consisting of picture-newspapers out of date, and serial pirates, 
and footpads. Walking-sticks, likewise, and marbles, were 
included in the stock in trade. It had once extended into 
the light confectionery line; but it would seem that those 
elegancies of life were not in demand about Jerusalem 
Buildings, for nothing connected with that branch of com- 
merce remained in the window, except a sort of small glass 
lantern containing a languishing mass of bull's-eyes, which 
had melted in the summer and congealed in the winter until 
all hope of ever getting them out, or of eating them without 
eating the lantern too, was gone for ever. Tetterby's had 
tried its hand at several things. It had once made a feeble 
little dart at the toy business ; for, in another lantern, there 
was a heap of minute wax dolls, all sticking together upside 
down, in the direst confusion, with their feet on one another's 
heads, and a precipitate of broken arms and legs at the 
bottom. It had made a move in the millinery direction, 
which a few dry, wiry bonnet-shapes remained in a corner of 
the window to attest. It had fancied that a living might lie 
hidden in the tobacco trade, and had stuck up a representa- 
tion of a native of each of the three integral portions of the 
British empire, in the act of consuming that fragrant weed ; 
with a poetic legend attached, importing that in one cause 
they sat and joked, one chewed tobacco, one took*snuff, one 
smoked ; but nothing seemed to have come of it, except 
flies. Time had been when it had put a forlorn trust in imitative 
jewellery, for in one pane of glass there was a card of cheap 
seals, and another of pencil-cases, and a mysterious black 
amulet of inscrutable intention, labelled ninepence. But, to 
that hour, Jerusalem Buildings had bought none of them. 
In short, Tetterby's had tried so hard to get a livelihood out 
of Jerusalem Buildings in one way or other, and appeared to 
have done so indifferently in all, that the best position in 
the firm was too evidently Co.'s ; Co., as a bodiless creation, 



MR. TETTERBY'S REMONSTRANCE. m 

being untroubled with the vulgar inconveniences of hunger 
and thirst, being chargeable neither to the poor's-rates nor 
the assessed taxes, and having no young family to provide for. 

Tetterby himself, however, in his little parlour, as already 
mentioned, having the presence of a young family impressed 
upon his mind in a manner too clamorous to be disregarded, 
or to comport with the quiet perusal of a newspaper, laid 
down his paper, wheeled, in his distraction, a few times 
round the parlour, like an undecided carrier-pigeon, made an 
ineffectual rush at one or two flying little figures in bed- 
gowns that skimmed past him, and then, bearing suddenly 
down upon the only unoffending member of the family, boxed 
the ears of little Moloch's nurse. 

" You bad boy ! " said Mr. Tetterby, " haven't you any 
feeling for your poor father after the fatigues and anxieties 
of a hard winter's day, since five o'clock in the morning, but 
must you wither his rest, and corrode his latest intelligence, 
with your wicious tricks ? Isn't it enough, sir, that your 
brother 'Dolphus is toiling and moiling in the fog and cold, 
and you rolling in the lap of luxury with a with a baby, 
and everything you can wish for," said Mr. Tetterby, heaping 
this up as a great climax of blessings, " but must you make 
a wilderness of home, and maniacs of your parents? Must 
you, Johnny ? Hey ? " At each interrogation, Mr. Tetterby 
made a feint of boxing his ears again, but thought better of 
it, and held his hand. 

"Oh, father!" whimpered Johnny, "when I wasn't doing 
anything, I'm sure, but taking such care of Sally, and getting 
her to sleep. Oh, father ! " 

"I wish my little woman would come home!" said Mr. 
Tetterby, relenting and repenting, "I only wish my little 
woman would come home ! I ain't fit to deal with 'em. 
They make my head go round, and get the better of me. 
Oh, Johnny! Isn't it enough that your dear mother has 
provided you with that sweet sister?" indicating Moloch; 
" isn't it enough that you were seven boys before, without a 



452 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

ray of gal, and that your dear mother went through what 
she did go through, on purpose that you might all of you 
have a little sister, but must you so behave yourself as to 
make my head swim ? " 

Softening more and more, as his own tender feelings and 
those of his injured son were worked on, Mr. Tetter by con- 
cluded by embracing him, and immediately breaking away to 
catch one of the real delinquents. A reasonably good start 
occurring, he succeeded, after a short but smart run, and 
some rather severe cross-country work under and over the 
bedsteads, and in and out among the intricacies of the chairs, 
in capturing his infant, whom he condignly punished, and 
bore to bed. This example had a powerful, and apparently, 
mesmeric influence on him of the boots, who instantly fell 
into a deep sleep, though he had been, but a moment before, 
broad awake, and in the highest possible feather. Nor was 
it lost upon the two young architects, who retired to bed, 
in an adjoining closet, with great privacy and speed. The 
comrade of the Intercepted One also shrinking into his nest 
with similar discretion, Mr. Tetterby, when he paused for 
breath, found himself unexpectedly in a scene of peace. 

" My little woman herself," said Mr. Tetterby, wiping his 
flushed face, " could hardly have done it better ! I only wish 
my little woman had had it to do, I do indeed ! " 

Mr. Tetterby sought upon his screen for a passage appro- 
priate to be impressed upon his children's minds on the 
occasion, and read the following. 

"'It is an undoubted fact that all remarkable men have 
had remarkable mothers, and have respected them in after life 
as their best friends. 1 Think of your own remarkable mother, 
my boys," said Mr. Tetterby, " and know her value while she 
is still among you ! " 

He sat down in his chair by the fire, and composed himself, 
cross-legged, over his newspaper. 

"Let anybody, I don't care who it is, get out of bed 
again," said Tetterby, as a general proclamation, delivered in 



MR. TETTERBY'S LITTLE WOMAN. 453 

a very soft-hearted manner, "and astonishment will be the 
portion of that respected contemporary ! " which expression 
Mr. Tetterby selected from his screen. "Johnny, my child, 
take care of your only sister, Sally ; for she's the brightest 
gem that ever sparkled on your early brow.'" 

Johnny sat down on a little stool, and devotedly crushed 
himself beneath the weight of Moloch. 

" Ah, what a gift that baby is to you, Johnny ! " said his 
father, " and how thankful you ought to be ! ' It is not 
generally known, 1 Johnny," he was now referring to the screen 
again, " ' but it is a fact ascertained, by accurate calculations, 
that the following immense per-centage of babies never attain 
to two years old ; that is to say ' " 

" Oh, don't, father, please ! " cried Johnny. " I can't bear 
it, when I think of Sally." 

Mr. Tetterby desisting, Johnny, with a profounder sense of 
his trust, wiped his eyes, and hushed his sister. 

" Your brother 'Dolphus," said his father, poking the fire, 
" is late to-night, Johnny, and will come home like a lump of 
ice. What's got your precious mother ? " 

"Here's mother, and 'Dolphus too, father !" exclaimed 
Johnny, " I think." 

" You're right ! "" returned his father, listening. " Yes, 
that's the footstep of my little woman." 

The process of induction, by which Mr. Tetterby had come 
to the conclusion that his wife was a little woman, was his 
own secret. She would have made two editions of himself, 
very easily. Considered as an individual, she was rather re- 
markable for being robust and portly ;' but considered with 
reference to her husband, her dimensions became magnificent. 
Nor did they assume a less imposing proportion, when studied 
with reference to the size of her seven sons, who were but 
diminutive. In the case of Sally, however, Mrs. Tetterby 
had asserted herself, at last ; as nobody knew better than the 
victim Johnny, who weighed and measured that exacting idoi 
every hour in the day. 



454 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

Mrs. Tetterby, who had been marketing, and carried a 
basket, threw back her bonnet and shawl, and sitting down, 
fatigued, commanded Johnny to bring his sweet charge to 
her straightway, for a kiss. Johnny having complied, and 
gone back to his stool, and again crushed himself, Master 
Adolphus Tetterby, who had by this time unwound his Torso 
out of a prismatic comforter, apparently interminable, re- 
quested the same favour. Johnny having again complied, 
and again gone back to his stool, and again crushed himself, 
Mr. Tetterby, struck by a sudden thought, preferred the same 
claim on his own parental part. The satisfaction of this 
thii'd desire completely exhausted the sacrifice, who had 
hardly breath enough left to get back to his stool, crush 
himself again, and pant at his relations. 

" Whatever you do, Johnny," said Mrs. Tetterby, shaking 
her head, "take care of her, or never look your mother in 
the face again." 

" Nor your brother," said Adolphus. 

" Nor your father, Johnny," added Mr. Tetterby. 

Johnny, much affected by this conditional renunciation of 
him, looked down at Moloch's eyes to see that they were all 
right, so far, and skilfully patted her back (which was upper- 
most), and rocked her with his foot. 

"Are you wet, 'Dolphus, my boy?" said his father. 
"Come and take my chair, and dry yourself." 

"No, father, thank'ee," said Adolphus, smoothing himself 
down with his hands. "I an't very wet, I don't think. 
Does my face shine much, father ? " 

" Well, it does look waxy, my boy," returned Mr. Tetterby. 

"It's the weather, father," said Adolphus, polishing his 
cheeks on the worn sleeve of his jacket. " What with rain, 
and sleet, and wind, and snow, and fog, my face gets quite 
brought out into a rash sometimes. And shines, it does oh, 
don't it, though ! " 

Master Adolphus was also in the newspaper line of life, 
being employed by a more thriving firm than his father and 



MRS. TETTERBY IS PUT OUT. 455 

Co., to vend newspapers at a railway station, where his chubby- 
little pei-son, like a shabbily disguised Cupid, and his shrill 
little voice (he was not much more than ten years old), were 
as well known as the hoarse panting of the locomotives, 
running in and out. His juvenility might have been at some 
loss for a harmless outlet, in this early application to traffic, 
but for a fortunate discovery he made of a means of enter- 
taining himself, and of dividing the long day into stages of 
interest, without neglecting business. This ingenious inven- 
tion, remarkable, like many great discoveries, for its simplicity, 
consisted in varying the first vowel in the word " paper," and 
substituting, in its stead, at different periods of the day, all 
the other vowels in grammatical succession. Thus, before 
daylight in the winter time, he went to and fro, in his little 
oilskin cap and cape, and his big comforter, piercing the 
heavy air with his cry of " Morn-ing Pa-per ! " which, about 
an hour before noon, changed to " Morn-ing Pep-per ! " 
which, at about two, changed to " Morn-ing Pip-per ! " which, 
in a couple of hours, changed to " Morn-ing Pop-per ! w and 
so declined with the sun into " Eve-ning Pup-per ! " to the 
great relief and comfort of this young gentleman^s spirits. 

Mrs. Tetterby, his lady-mother, who had been sitting with 
her bonnet and shawl thrown back, as aforesaid, thoughtfully 
turning her wedding-ring round and round upon her finger, 
now rose, and divesting herself of her out-of-door attire, 
began to lay the cloth for supper. 

" Ah, dear me, dear me, dear me ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. 
" That's the way the world goes ! " 

"Which is the way the world goes, *my dear?" asked Mr. 
Tetterby, looking round. 

" Oh, nothing ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. 

Mr. Tetterby elevated his eyebrows, folded his newspaper 
afresh, and carried his eyes up it, and down it, and aero-- it, 
but was wandering in his attention, and not reading it. 

Mrs. Tetterby, at the same time, laid the cloth, but rather 
as if she were punishing the table than preparing the family 



456 



THE HAUNTED MAN. 



supper; hitting it unnecessarily hard with the knives and 
forks, slapping it with the plates, dinting it with the salt- 
cellar, and coming heavily down upon it with the loaf. 

" Ah, dear me, dear me, dear me ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. 
" That's the way the world goes ! " 

"My duck," 
returned her 
husband, look- 
ing round again, 
"you said that 
before. Which 
is the way the 
world goes ? " 

"Oh, n o - 
thing ! " said 
Mrs. Tetterby. 
" Sophia ! M re- 
monstrated her 
husband, "you 
; ! said that before, 
too.* 1 

" Well, I'll 
say it again if 
you like," re- 
turned Mrs. 
Tetterby. "Oh 
nothing there! 
And again if 
you like, oh 
nothing there ! 
And again if you like, oh nothing now then ! " 

Mr. Tetterby brought his eye to bear upon the partner of 
his bosom, and said, in mild astonishment : 
" My little woman, what has put you out ? " 
"I'm sure / don't know," she retorted. "Don't ask me. 
Who said I was put out at all ? / never did.'' 




SUPPER PREPARATIONS. 457 

Mr. Tetterby gave up the perusal of his newspaper as a 
bad job, and, taking a slow walk across the room, with his 
hands behind him, and his shoulders raised his gait accord- 
ing perfectly with the resignation of his manner addressed 
himself to his two eldest offspring. 

" Your supper will be ready in a minute, "Dolphus," said 
Mr. Tetterby. " Your mother has been out in the wet, to 
the cook's shop, to buy it. It was very good of your mother 
so to do. You shall get some supper too, very soon, Johnny. 
Your mother's pleased with you, my man, for being so 
attentive to your precious sister." 

Mrs. Tetterby, without any remark, but with a decided 
subsidence of her animosity towards the table, finished her 
preparations, and took, from her ample basket, a substantial 
slab of hot pease pudding wrapped in paper, and a basin 
covered with a saucer, which, on being uncovered, sent forth 
an odour so agreeable, that the three pair of eyes in the two 
beds opened wide and fixed themselves upon the banquet. 
Mr. Tetterby, without regarding this tacit invitation to be 
seated, stood repeating slowly, "Yes, yes, your supper will 
be ready in a minute, 'Dolphus your mother went out in 
the wet, to the cook's shop, to buy it. It was very good of 
your mother so to do " until Mrs. Tetterby, who had been 
exhibiting sundry tokens of contrition behind him, caught 
him round the neck, and wept. 

" Oh, 'Dolphus ! " said Mrs. Tetterby, " how could I go 
and behave so ? " 

This reconciliation affected Adolphus the younger and 
Johnny to that degree, that they both, 'as with one accord, 
raised a dismal cry, which had the effect of immediately 
shutting up the round eyes in the beds, and utterly routing 
the two remaining little Tetterbys, just then stealing in 
from the adjoining closet to see what was going on in the 
eating way. 

"I am 'sure, 'Dolphus," sobbed Mrs. Tetterby, ^coming 
home, I had no more idea than a child unborn 



458 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

Mr. Tetterby seemed to dislike this figure of speech, and 
observed, " Say than the baby, my dear."" 

Had no more idea than the baby," said Mrs. Tetterby. 
"Johnny, don't look at me, but look at her, or shell fall 
out of your lap and be killed, and then you'll die in agonies 
of a broken heart, and serve you right. No more idea I 
hadn't than that darling, of being cross when I came home ; 

but somehow, 'Dolphus " Mrs. Tetterby paused, and 

again turned her wedding-ring round and round upon her 
finger. 

" I see ! " said Mr. Tetterby. " I understand ! My little 
woman was put out. Hard times, and hard weather, and 
hard work, make it trying now and then. I see, bless your 
soul ! No wonder ! 'Dolf, my man," continued Mr. Tetterby, 
exploring the basin with a fork, " here's your mother been 
and bought, at the cook's shop, besides pease pudding, a 
whole knuckle of a lovely roast leg of pork, with lots of 
crackling left upon it, and with seasoning gravy and mustard 
quite unlimited. Hand in your plate, my boy, and begin 
while it's simmering." 

Master Adolphus, needing no second summons, received his 
portion with eyes rendered moist by appetite, and with- 
drawing to his particular stool, fell upon his supper tooth 
and nail. Johnny was not forgotten, but received his rations 
on bread, lest he should, in a flush of gravy, trickle any on 
the baby. He was required, for similar reasons, to keep his 
pudding, when not on active service, in his pocket. 

There might have been more pork on the knucklebone, 
which knucklebone the carver at the cook's shop had 
assuredly not forgotten in carving for previous customers 
but there was no stint of seasoning, and that is an accessory 
dreamily suggesting pork, and pleasantly cheating the sense 
of taste. The pease pudding, too, the gravy and mustard, 
like the Eastern rose in respect of the nightingale, if they 
were not absolutely pork, had lived near it ; so, upon the 
whole, there was the flavour of a middle-sized pig. It was 



MRS. TETTERBY RECOVERS HER TEMPER. 459 

irresistible to the Tetterbys in bed, who, though professing 
to slumber peacefully, crawled out when unseen by their 
parents, and silently appealed to their brothers for any 
gastronomic token of fraternal affection. They, not hard of 
heart, presenting scraps in retuni, it resulted that a party of 
light skirmishers in night-gowns were careering about the 
parlour all through supper, which harassed Mr. Tetterby ex- 
ceedingly, and once or twice imposed upon him the necessity 
of a charge, before which these guerilla troops retired in all 
directions and in great confusion. 

Mrs. Tetterby did not enjoy her supper. There seemed 
to be something on Mrs. Tetterby 's mind. At one time 
she laughed without reason, and at another time she cried 
without reason, and at last she laughed and cried together 
in a manner so very unreasonable that her husband was 
confounded. 

"My little woman," said Mr. Tetterby, "if the world 
goes that way, it appears to go the wrong way, and to 
choke you. 11 

" Gi've me a drop of water, 11 said Mrs. Tetterby, struggling 
with herself, "and don't speak to me for the present, or 
take any notice of me. Don't do it ! " 

Mr. Tetterby having administered the water, turned sud- 
denly on the unlucky Johnny (who was full of sympathy), 
and demanded why he was wallowing there, in gluttony and 
idleness, instead of coming forward with the baby, that the 
sight of her might revive his mother. Johnny immediately 
approached, borne down by its weight; but Mrs. Tetterby 
holding out her hand to signify that she was not in a con- 
dition to bear that trying appeal to her feelings, he was 
interdicted from advancing another inch, on pain of perpetual 
hatred from all his dearest connections ; and accordingly 
retired to his stool again, and crushed himself as before. 

After a pause, Mi's. Tetterby said she was better now, and 
began to laugh. 

"My little woman; 1 said her husband, dubiously, "are 



460 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

you quite sure you're better? Or are you, Sophia, about 
to break out in a fresh direction ? " 

" No, 'Dolphus, no," replied his wife. " I'm quite myself." 
With that, settling her hair, and pressing the palms of her 
hands upon her eyes, she laughed again. 

" What a wicked fool I was, to think so for a moment ! " 
said Mrs. Tetterby. " Come nearer, 'Dolphus, and let me 
ease my mind, and tell you what I mean. Let me tell you 
all about it." 

Mr. Tetterby bringing his chair closer, Mrs. Tetterby 
laughed again, gave him a hug, and wiped her eyes. 

" You know, 'Dolphus, my dear," said Mrs. Tetterby, 
" that when I was single, I might have given myself away 
in several directions. At one time, four after me at once ; 
two of them were sons of Mars." 

" We're all sons of Ma's, my dear,' 1 said Mr. Tetterby, 
"jointly with Pa's." 

" I don't mean that," replied his wife, " I mean soldiers 
Serjeants." 

" Oh ! " said Mr. Tetterby. 

" Well, 'Dolphus, I'm sure I never think of such things 
now, to regret them ; and I'm sure I've got as good a 
husband, and would do as much to prove that I was fond 
of him, as " 

"As any little woman in the world," said Mr. Tetterby. 
" Ver J g 0( l. Very good." 

If Mr. Tetterby had been ten feet high, he could not have 
expressed a gentler consideration for Mrs. Tetterby's fairy- 
like stature ; and if Mrs. Tetterby had been two feet high, 
she could not have felt it more appropriately her due. 

" But you see, 'Dolphus," said Mrs. Tetterby, " this being 
Christmas-time, when all people who can, make holiday, and 
when all people who have got money, like to spend some, 
I did, somehow, get a little out of sorts when I was in the 
streets just now. There were so many things to be sold 
such delicious things to eat, such fine things to look at, 



MRS. TETTERBY'S CONFESSION. 461 

such delightful things to have and there was so much 
calculating and calculating necessary, before I durst lay out 
a sixpence for the commonest thing; and the basket was 
so large, and wanted so much in it ; and my stock of money 
was so small, and would go such a little way; you hate 
me, don't you, 'Dolphus?" 

" Not quite," said Mr. Tetterby, " as yet" 

" Well ! Til tell you the whole truth," pursued his wife, 
penitently, " and then perhaps you will. I felt all this, so 
much, when I was trudging about in the cold, and when 
I saw a lot of other calculating faces and large baskets 
trudging about, too, that I began to think whether I mightn't 
have done better, and been happier, if I hadn't " the 
wedding-ring went round again, and Mrs. Tetterby shook 
her downcast head as she turned it 

" I see,"" said her husband quietly ; " if you hadn't married 
at all, or if you had married somebody else ?" 

"Yes,' 1 sobbed Mrs. Tetterby. "That's really what I 
thought. Do you hate me now, 'Dolphus ? " 

" Why no,' 1 said Mr. Tetterby, " I don't find that I do, 
as yet."" 

Mrs. Tetterby gave him a thankful kiss, and went on. 

" I begin to hope you won't, now, "Dolphus, though I am 
afraid I haven't told you the worst. I can't think what came 
over me. I don't know whether I was ill, or mad, or what 
I was, but I couldn't call up anything that seemed to bind 
us to each other, or to reconcile me to my fortune. All 
the pleasures and enjoyments we had ever had they seemed 
so poor and insignificant, I hated them. I could have 
trodden on them. And I could think of nothing else, except 
our being poor, and the number of mouths there were at 
home." 

" Well, well, my dear," said Mr. Tetterby, shaking her 
hand encouragingly, " that's truth after all. We are poor, 
and there are a number of mouths at home here." 

" Ah ! but, Dolf, Dolf ! " cried his wife, laying her hands 



462 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

upon his neck, " my good, kind, patient fellow, when I had 
been at home a very little while how different ! Oh, Dolf, 
dear, how different it was ! I felt as if there was a rush 
of recollection on me, all at once, that softened my hard 
heart, and filled it up till it was bursting. All our struggles 
for a livelihood, all our cares and wants since we have been 
married, all the times of sickness, all the hours of watching, 
we have ever had, by one another, or by the children, seemed 
to speak to me, and say that they had made us one, and 
that I never might have been, or could have been, or would 
have been, any other than the wife and mother I am. Then, 
the cheap enjoyments that I could have trodden on so cruelly, 
got to be so precious to me Oh so priceless, and dear ! 
that I couldn't bear to think how much I had wronged 
them ; and I said, and say again a hundred times, how could 
I ever behave so, 'Dolphus, how could I ever have the heart 
to do it ! " 

The good woman, quite carried away by her honest 
tenderness and remorse, was weeping with all her heart, when 
she started up with a scream, and ran behind her husband. 
Her cry was so terrified, that the children started from their 
sleep and from their beds, and clung about her. Nor did 
her gaze belie her voice, as she pointed to a pale man in 
a black cloak who had come into the room. 

" Look at that man ! Look there ! What does he want ? " 

" My dear," returned her husband, " Til ask him if you'll 
let me go. What's the matter ? How you shake ! " 

" I saw him in the street, when I was out just now. He 
looked at me, and stood near me. I am afraid of him." 

" Afraid of him ! Why ? " 

" I don't know why I stop ! husband ! " for he was 
going towards the stranger. 

She had one hand pressed upon her forehead, and one 
upon her breast; and there Avas a peculiar fluttering all over 
her, and a hurried unsteady motion of her eyes, as if she 
had lost something. 



INFECTED AIR. 463 

" Are you ill, my dear ? " 

" What is it that is going from me again ? " she muttered, 
in a low voice. " What is this that is going away?" 

Then she abruptly answered : " 111 ? No, I am quite well,"" 
and stood looking vacantly at the floor. 

Her husband, who had not been altogether free from the 
infection of her fear at first, and whom the present strange- 
ness of her manner did not tend to reassure, addressed himself 
to the pale visitor in the black cloak, who stood still, and 
whose eyes were bent upon the ground. 

"What may be your pleasure, sir," he asked, "with us?" 

" I fear that my coming in unperceived," returned the 
visitor, " has alarmed you ; but you were talking and did 
not hear me." 

" My little woman says perhaps you heard her say it," 
returned Mr. Tetterby, " that it's not the first time you have 
alarmed her to-night." 

" I am sorry for it. I remember to have observed her, for 
a few moments only, in the street. I had no intention of 
frightening her." 

As he raised his eyes in speaking, she raised hers. It was 
extraordinary to see what dread she had of him, and with 
what dread he observed it and yet how narrowly and 
closely. 

" My name," he said, " is Redlaw. I come from the old 
college hard by. A young gentleman who is a student there, 
lodges in your house, does he not ? " 

" Mr. Denham ? " said Tetterby. 

" Yes." 

It was a natural action, and so slight as to be hardly 
noticeable ; but the little man, before speaking again, passed 
his hand across his forehead, and looked quickly round the 
room, as though he were sensible of some change in its 
atmosphere. The Chemist, instantly transferring to him the 
look of dread he had directed towards the wife, stepped back, 
and his face turned paler. 



464 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

"The gentleman's room, 11 said Tetterby, "is up-stairs, sir. 
There's a more convenient private entrance ; but as you have 
come in here, it will save your going out into the cold, if 
you'll take this little staircase," showing one communicating 
directly with the parlour, "and go up to him that way, if 
you wish to see him.' 1 

"Yes, I wish to see him, 1 ' said the Chemist. "Can you 
spare a light?' 1 

The watchfulness of his haggard look, and the inexplicable 
distrust that darkened it, seemed to trouble Mr. Tetterby. 
He paused ; and looking fixedly at him in return, stood for a 
minute or so, like a man stupefied, or fascinated. 

At length he said, " I'll light you, sir, if you'll follow me." 

" No," replied the Chemist, " I don't wish to be attended, 
or announced to him. He does not expect me. I would 
rather go alone. Please to give me the light, if you can 
spare it, and I'll find the way. 11 

In the quickness of his expression of this desire, and in 
taking the candle from the newsman, he touched him on the 
breast. Withdrawing his hand hastily, almost as though he 
had wounded him by accident (for he did not know in 
what part of himself his new power resided, or how it was 
communicated, or how the manner of its reception varied in 
different persons), he turned and ascended the stair. 

But when he reached the top, he stopped and looked 
down. The wife was standing in the same place, twisting 
her ring round and round upon her finger. The husband, 
with his head bent forward on his breast, was musing heavily 
and sullenly. The children, still clustering about the mother, 
gazed timidly after the visitor, and nestled together when 
they saw him looking down. 

"Come!" said the father, roughly. "There's enough of 
this. Get to bed here ! " 

"The place is inconvenient and small enough, 1 ' the mother 
added, " without you. Get to bed ! " 

The whole brood, scared and sad, crept away ; little Johnny 



THE SICK STUDENT. 46-> 

and the baby lagging last. The mother, glancing con- 
temptuously round the sordid room, and tossing from her 
the fragments of their meal, stopped on the threshold of her 
task of clearing the table, and sat down, pondering idly and 
dejectedly. The father betook himself to the chimney-corner, 
and impatiently raking the small fire together, bent over it 
as if he would monopolise it all. They did not interchange 
a word. 

The Chemist, paler than before, stole upward like a thief; 
looking back upon the change below, and dreading equally 
to go on or return. 

" What have I done ! " he said, confusedly. " What am I 
going to do ! " 

" To be the benefactor of mankind,' 1 he thought he heard 
a voice reply. 

He looked round, but there was nothing there; and a 
passage now shutting out the little parlour from his view, he 
went on, directing his eyes before him at the way he went. 

" It is only since last night," he muttered gloomily, " that 
I have remained shut up, and yet all things are strange to 
me. I am strange to myself. I am here, as in a dream. 
What interest have I in this place, or in any place that I 
can bring to my remembrance ? My mind is going blind ! " 

There was a door before him, and he knocked at it. 
Being invited, by a voice within, to enter, he complied. 

' " Is that my kind nurse ? " said the voice. " But I need 
not ask her. There is no one else to come here." 

It spoke cheerfully, though in a langui^ tone, and attracted 
his attention to a young man lying on a couch, drawn before 
the chimney-piece, with the back towards the door. A 
meagre scanty stove, pinched and hollowed like a sick man's 
cheeks, and bricked into the centre of a hearth that it could 
scarcely warm, contained the fire, to which his face was 
turned. Being so near the windy house-top, it wasted 
quickly, and with a busy sound, and the burning ashes 
dropped down fast. 



466 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

"They chink when they shoot out here," said the student, 
smiling, "so, according to the gossips, they are not coffins, 
but purses. I shall be well and rich yet, some day, if it 
please God, and shall live perhaps to love a daughter Milly, 
in remembrance of the kindest nature and the gentlest heart 
in the world." 

He put up his hand as if expecting her to take it, but, being 
weakened, he lay still, with his face resting on his other hand, 
and did not turn round. 

The Chemist glanced about the room ; at the student's 
books and papers, piled upon a table in a corner, where they, 
and his extinguished reading-lamp, now prohibited and put 
away, told of the attentive hours that had gone before this 
illness, and perhaps caused it; at such signs of his old 
health and freedom, as the out-of-door attire that hung idle 
on the wall; at those remembrances of other and less 
solitary scenes, the little miniatures upon the chimney-piece, 
and the drawing of home ; at that token of his emulation, 
perhaps, in some sort, of his personal attachment too, the 
framed engraving of himself, the looker-on. The time had 
been, only yesterday, when not one of these objects, in its 
remotest association of interest with the living figure before 
him, would have been lost on Redlaw. Now, they were but 
objects ; or, if any gleam of such connexion shot upon him, 
it perplexed, and not enlightened him, as he stood looking 
round with a dull wonder. 

The student, recalling the thin hand which had remained 
so long untouched, raised himself on the couch, and turned 
his head. 

" Mr. Redlaw ! " he exclaimed, and started up. 

Redlaw put out his arm. 

"Don't come nearer to me. I will sit here. Remain yon, 
where you are ! " 

He sat down on a chair near the door, and having glanced 
at the young man standing leaning with his hand upon the 
couch, spoke with his eyes averted towards the ground. 



THE CHEMIST AND THE STUDENT. 467 

" I heard, by an accident, by what accident is no matter, 
that one of my class was ill and solitary. I received no other 
description of him, than that he lived 'in this street. Begin- 
ning my inquiries at the first house in it, I have found him." 

"I have been ill, sir," returned the student, not merely 
with a modest hesitation, but with a kind of awe of him, 
" but am greatly better. An attack of fever of the brain, 
I believe has weakened me, but I am much better. I can- 
not say I have been solitary, in my illness, or I should forget 
the ministering hand that has been near me." 

" You are speaking of the keeper s wife," said Redlaw. 

" Yes." The student bent his head, as if he rendered her 
some silent homage. 

The Chemist, in whom there was a cold, monotonous apathv, 
which rendered him more like a marble image on the tomb 
of the man who had started from his dinner yesterday at 
the first mention of this student's case, than the breathing 
man himself, glanced again at the student leaning with his 
hand upon the couch, and looked upon the ground, and in 
the air, as if for light for his blinded mind. 

" I remembered your name," he said, " when it was men- 
tioned to me down-stairs, just now ; and I recollect your 
face. We have held but very little personal communication 
together ? " 

" Very little." 

" You have retired and withdrawn from me. more than any 
of the rest, I think ? " 

The student signified assent. , 

" And why '; " said the Chemist ; not with the least ex- 
pression of interest, but with a moodv, wayward kind of 
curiosity. " Why ? How comes it that you have sought 
to keep especially from me, the knowledge of your remaining 
here, at this season, when all the rest have dispersed, and of 
your being ill ? I want to know why this is ? " 

The young man, who had heard him with increasing 
agitation, raised his downcast eves to his face, and clasping 



468 THE HATOTEI) MAN. 

his hands together, cried with sudden earnestness and with 
trembling lips : 

" Mr. Redlaw ! You have discovered me. You know my 
secret ! " 

" Secret ? " said the Chemist, harshly. " / know ? " 

"Yes! Your manner, so different from the interest and 
sympathy which endear you to so many hearts, your altered 
voice, the constraint there is in everything you say, and in 
your looks, 11 replied the student, "warn me that you know 
me. That you would conceal it, even now, is but a proof 
to me (God knows I need none !) of your natural kindness, 
and of the bar there is between us." 

A vacant and contemptuous laugh, was all his answer. 

"But, Mr. Redlaw, 11 said the student, "as a just man, and 
a good man, think how innocent I am, except in name and 
descent, of participation in any wrong inflicted on you, or in 
any sorrow you have borne. 11 

" Sorrow ! " said Redlaw, laughing. " Wrong ! What are 
those to me? 11 

" For Heaven^ sake, 11 entreated the shrinking student, " do 
not let the mere interchange of a few words with me change 
you like this, sir ! Let me pass again from your knowledge 
and notice. Lefe me occupy my old reserved and distant 
place among those whom you instinct. Know me only by 
the name I have assumed, and not by that of Longford " 

" Longford ! " exclaimed the other. 

He clasped his head with both his hands, and for a moment 
turned upon the young man his own intelligent and thought- 
ful face. But the light passed from it, like the sunbeam of 
an instant, and it clouded as before. 

" The name my mother bears, sir, 11 faltered the young man, 
"the name she took, when she might, perhaps, have taken 
one more honoured. Mr. Redlaw, 11 hesitating, "I believe I 
know that history. Where my information halts, my guesses 
at what is wanting may supply something not remote from 
the truth. I am the child of n, marriage that has not proved 



HER SOX. 469 

itself a well-assorted or a happy one. From infancy, I have 
heard you spoken of with honour and respect with some- 
thing that was almost reverence. I have heard of such 
devotion, of such fortitude and tenderness, of such rising up 
against the obstacles which press men down, that my fancy, 
since I learnt my little lesson from my mother, has shed a 
lustre on your name. At last, a poor student myself, from 
whom could I learn but you ? "* 

Redlaw, unmoved, unchanged, and looking at him with a 
staring frown, answered by no word or sign. 

" I cannot say," 11 pursued the other, " I should try in vain 
to say, how much it has impressed me, and affected me, to 
find the gracious traces of the past, in that certain power of 
winning gratitude and confidence which is associated among 
us students (among the humblest of us, most) with Mr. 
Redlaw^s generous name. Our ages and positions are so 
different, sir, and I am so accustomed to regard you from a 
distance, that I wonder at my own presumption when I touch, 
however lightly, on that theme. But to one who I may say, 
who felt no common interest in my mother once it may be 
something to hear, now that is all past, with what indescrib- 
able feelings of affection I have, in my obscurity, regarded 
him ; with what pain and reluctance I have kept aloof from 
his encouragement, when a word of it would have made me 
rich ; yet how I have felt it fit that I should hold my course, 
content to know him, and to be unknown. Mr. Redlaw," said 
the student, faintly, " what I would have said, I have said ill, 
for my strength is strange to me as yet ; but for anything 
unworthy in this fraud of mine, forgive me, and for all the 
rest forget me ! " 

The staring frown remained on Redlaw's face, and yielded 
to no other expression until the student, with these words, 
advanced towards him, as if to touch his hand, when he drew 
back and cried to him : 

" Don't come nearer to me ! " 

The young man stopped, shocked by the eagerness of his 



470 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

recoil, and by the sternness of his repulsion ; and he passed his 
hand, thoughtfully, across his forehead. 

"The past is past," said the Chemist. "It dies like the 
brutes. Who talks to me of its traces in my life? He 
raves or lies! What have I to do with your distempered 
dreams? If you want money, here it is. I came to offer 
it; and that is all I came for. There can be nothing else 
that brings me here," he muttered, holding his head again, 
with both his hands. "There can be nothing else, and 
yet " 

He had tossed his purse upon the table. As he fell into 
this dim cogitation with himself, the student took it up, and 
held it out to him. 

"Take it back, sir," he said proudly, though not angrily. 
"I wish you could take from me, with it, the remembrance 
of your words and offer." 

" You do ? " he retorted, with a wild light in his eyes. 
"You do?" 

" I do ! " 

The Chemist went close to him, for the first time, and took 
the purse, and turned him by the arm, and looked him in 
the face. 

" There is sorrow and trouble in sickness, is there not ? " 
he demanded, with a laugh. 

The wondering student answered, " Yes." 

" In its unrest, in its anxiety, in its suspense, in all its train 
of physical and mental miseries?" said the Chemist, with a 
wild unearthly exultation. "All best forgotten, are they 
not ? " 

The student did not answer, but again passed his hand, 
confusedly, across his forehead. Redlaw still held him by the 
sleeve, when Milly's voice was heard outside. 

"I can see very well now," she said, "thank you, Dolf. 
Don't cry, dear. Father and mother will be comfortable 
again, to-morrow, and home will be comfortable too. A 
gentleman with him, is there ! " 



MILLY AND THE STUDENT. 471 

Redlatv released his hold, as he listened. 

"I have feared, from the first moment,"" he murmured to 
himself, "to meet her. There is a steady quality of goodness 
in her, that I dread to influence. I may be the murderer of 
what is tenderest and best within her bosom." 

She was knocking at the door. 

" Shall I dismiss it as an idle foreboding, or still avoid 
her?" he muttered, looking uneasily around. 

She was knocking at the door again. 

"Of all the visitors who could come here," he said, in a 
hoarse alarmed voice, turning to his companion, " this is the 
one I should desire most to avoid. Hide me ! " 

The student opened a frail door in the wall, communicating 
where the garret-roof began to slope towards the floor, with 
a small inner room. Redlaw passed in hastily, and shut it 
after him. 

The student then resumed his place upon the couch, and 
called to her to enter. 

" Dear Mr. Edmund," said Milly, looking round, " they 
told me there was a gentleman here." 

"There is no one here but I." 

" There has been some one ? " 

" Yes, yes, there has been some one." 

She put her little basket on the table, and went up to the 
back of the couch, as< if to take the extended hand but it 
was not there. A little surprised, in her quiet way, she 
leaned over to look at his face, and gently touched him on 
the brow. 

"Are you quite as well to-night? Your head is not so 
cool as in the afternoon." 

" Tut ! " said the student, petulantly, " very little ails me." 

A little more surprise, but no reproach, was expressed in 
her face, as she withdrew to the other side of the table, and 
took a small packet of needlework from her basket But she 
laid it down again, on second thoughts, and going noiselessly 
about the room, set everything exactly in its place, and in the 



472 



THE HAUNTED MAN. 



neatest order; even to the cushions on the couch, which she 
touched with so light a hand, that he hardly seemed to know 
it, as he lay looking at the fire. When all this was done, and 
she had swept the hearth, she sat down, in her modest little 
bonnet, to her work, and was quietly busy on it directly. 

" It's the new muslin curtain for the window, Mr. Edmund,"" 1 
said Milly, stitching away as she talked. " It will look very 
clean and nice, though it costs very little, and will save your 




eyes, too, from the light. My William says the room should 
not be too light just now, when you are recovering so well, 
or the glare might make you giddy."" 

He said nothing; but there was something so fretful and 
impatient in his change of position, that her quick fingers 
stopped, and she looked at him anxiously. 

"The pillows are not comfortable," she said, laying down 
her work and rising. " I will soon put them right. 1 ' 



THE CONTAGION SPREADS. 473 

" They are very well,* he answered. " Leave them alone, 
pray. You make so much of everything.' 1 ' 1 

He raised his head to say this, and looked at her so 
thanklessly, that, after he had thrown himself down again, 
she stood timidly pausing. However, she resumed her seat, 
and her needle, without having directed even a murmuring 
look towards him, and was soon as busy as before. 

" I have been thinking, Mr. Edmund, that you have been 
often thinking of late, when I have been sitting by, how true 
the saying is, that adversity is a good teacher. Health will 
be more precious to you, after this illness, than it has ever 
been. And years hence, when this time of year comes round, 
and you remember the days when you lay here sick, alone, 
that the knowledge of your illness might not afflict those who 
are dearest to you, your home will be doubly dear and doubly 
blest. Now, isn't that a good, true thing?" 

She was too intent upon her work, and too earnest in what 
she said, and too composed and quiet altogether, to be on the 
watch for any look he might direct towards her in reply ; so 
the shaft of his ungrateful glance fell harmless, and did not 
wound her. 

" Ah ! " said Milly, with her pretty head inclining thought- 
fully on one side, as she looked down, following her busy 
fingers with her eyes. " Even on me and I am very different 
from you, Mr. Edmund, for I have no learning, and don't 
know how to think properly this view of such things has 
made a great impression, since you have been lying ill. When 
I have seen you so touched by the kindness and attention of 
the poor people down-stairs, I have felt that you thought 
even that experience some repayment for the loss of health, 
and I have read in your face, as plain as if it was a book, 
that but for some trouble and sorrow we should never know 
half the good there is about us." 

His getting up from the couch, interrupted her, or she was 
going on to say more. 

"We needn't magnify the merit, Mrs. William," he rejoined 



474 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

slightingly. " The people down-stairs will be paid in good 
time I dare say, for any little extra service they may have 
rendered me ; and perhaps they anticipate no less. I am much 
obliged to you, too." 

Her fingers stopped, and she looked at him. 

"I can't be made to feel the more obliged by your 
exaggerating the case," he said. " I am sensible that you 
have been interested in me, and I say I am much obliged to 
you. What more would you have ? " 

Her work fell on her lap, as she still looked at him walk- 
ing to and fro with an intolerant air, and stopping now and 
then. 

" I say again, I am much obliged to you. Why weaken 
my sense of what is your due in obligation, by preferring 
enormous claims upon me ? Trouble, sorrow, affliction, 
adversity ! One might suppose I had been dying a score of 
deaths here ! " 

"Do you believe, Mr. Edmund," she asked, rising and 
going nearer to him, "that I spoke of the poor people of 
the house, with any reference to myself? To me?" laying 
her hand upon her bosom with a simple and innocent smile 
of astonishment. 

" Oh ! I think nothing about it, my good creature," he re- 
turned. " I have had an indisposition, which your solicitude 
observe ! I say solicitude makes a great deal more of, 
than it merits ; and it's over, and we can't perpetuate it." 

He coldly took a book, and sat down at the table. 

She watched him for a little while, until her smile was 
quite gone, and then returning to where her basket was, said 
gently : 

" Mr. Edmund, would you rather be alone ? " 

"There is no reason why I should detain you here," he 
replied. 

"Except " said Milly, hesitating, and showing her work. 

" Oh ! the curtain," he answered, with a supercilious laugh. 
" That's not worth staying for." 



A DREADFUL GIF1\ 475 

She made up the little packet again, and put it in her 
basket. Then, standing before him with such an air of 
patient entreaty that he could not choose but look at her, 
she said : 

"If you should want me, I will come back willinglv. 
When you did want me, I was quite happy to come ; then- 
was no merit in it. I think you must be afraid,~that, now 
you are getting well, I may be troublesome to you; but I 
should not have been, indeed. I should have come no longer 
than your weakness and confinement lasted. You owe me 
nothing; but it is right that you should deal as justly by 
me as if I was a lady even the very lady that you love; 
and if you suspect me of meanly making much of the little I 
have tried to do to comfort your sick room, you do yourself 
more wrong than ever you can do me. That is why I am 
sorry. That is why I am very sorry. 1 " 

If she had been as passionate as she was quiet, as indignant 
as she was calm, as angry in her look as she was gentle, as 
loud of tone as she was low and clear, she might have left 
no sense of her departure in the room, compared with that 
which fell upon the lonely student when she went away. 

He was gazing drearily upon the place where she had 
been, when Redlaw came out of his concealment, and came to 
the door. 

"When sickness lays its hand on you again," he said, 
looking fiercely back at him, " may it be soon ! Die here ! 
Rot here ! " 

" What have you done ? " returned the other, catching at 
his cloak. " What change have you wrought in me ? What 
curse have you brought upon me? Give me back myself!" 

"Give me back myself !" exclaimed Redlaw like a madman. 
" I am infected ! I am infectious ! I am charged with 
poison for my own mind, and the minds of all mankind. 
Where I felt interest, compassion, sympathy, I am turning 
into stone. Selfishness and ingratitude spring up in my 
blighted footsteps. I am only so much less base than the 



476 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

wretches whom I make so, that in the moment of their 
transformation I can hate them." 11 

As he spoke the young man still holding to his cloak 
he cast him off, and struck him : then, wildly hurried out 
into the night air where the wind was blowing, the snow 
tailing, the cloud-drift sweeping on, the moon dimly shining, 
and where, blowing in the wind, falling with the snow, drift- 
ing with the clouds, shining in the moonlight, and heavily 
looming in the darkness, were the Phantom's words, " The 
gift that I have given, you shall give again, go where 
you will ! " 

Whither he went, he neither knew nor cared, so that he 
avoided company. The change he felt within him made the 
busy streets a desert, and himself a desert, and the multitude 
around him, in their manifold endurances and ways of life, a 
mighty waste of sand, which the winds tossed into unintelligible 
heaps and made a ruinous confusion of. Those traces in his 
breast which the Phantom had told him would " die out 
soon," were not, as yet, so far upon their way to death, but 
that he understood enough of what he was, and what he 
made of others, to desire to be alone. 

This put it in his mind he suddenly bethought himself, as 
he was going along, of the boy who had rushed into his 
room. And then he recollected, that of those with whom he 
had communicated since the Phantom's disappearance, that 
boy alone had shown no sign of being changed. 

Monstrous and odious as the wild thing was to him, he 
determined to seek it out, and prove if this were really so ; 
and also to seek it with another intention, which came into 
his thoughts at the same time. 

So, resolving with some difficulty where he was, he directed 
his steps back to the old college, and to that part of it where 
the general porch was, and where, alone, the pavement was 
worn by the tread of the students 1 feet. 

The keeper's house stood just within the iron gates, form- 
ing a part of the chief quadrangle. There was a little cloister 



THE OLD COLLEGE. 477 

outside, and from that sheltered place he knew he could look 
in at the window of their ordinary room, and .see who was 
within. The iron gates were shut, but his hand was familiar 
with the fastening, and drawing it back by thrusting in his 
wrist between the bars, he passed through softly, shut it 
again, and crept up to the window, crumbling the thin crust 
of snow with his feet. 

The fire, to which he had directed the boy last night, 
shining brightly through the glass, made an illuminated place 
upon the ground. Instinctively avoiding this, and going 




round it, he looked in at the window. At first, he thought 
that there was no one there, and that the blaze was redden- 
ing only the old beams in the ceiling and the dark walls ; 
but peering in more narrowly, he saw the object of his search 
coiled asleep before it on the floor. He passed quickly to the 
door, opened it, and went in. 

The creature lay in such a fiery heat, that, as the Chemi>t 
stooped to rouse him, it scorched his head. So soon as he was 
touched, the boy, not half awake, clutched his rags together 
with the instinct of flight upon him, half rolled and half ran 



478 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

into a distant corner of the room, where, heaped upon the 
ground, he struck his foot out to defend himself. 

" Get up ! " said the Chemist. " You have not forgotten 
me ? " 

" You let me alone ! " returned the boy. " This is the 
woman's house not yours." 

The Chemist's steady eye controlled him somewhat, or 
inspired him with enough submission to be raised upon his 
feet, and looked at. 

" Who washed them, and put those bandages where they 
were bruised and cracked ? " asked the Chemist, pointing to 
their altered state. 

"The woman did. 1 ' 1 

"And is it she who has made you cleaner in the face, tco?" 

" Yes, the woman.' 1 ' 1 

Redlaw asked these questions to attract his eyes towards 
himself, and with the same intent now held him by the chin, 
and threw his wild hair back, though he loathed to touch 
him. The boy watched his eyes keenly, as if he thought it 
needful to his own defence, not knowing what he might do 
next; and Redlaw could see well that no change came 
over him. 

"Where are they ?" he inquired. 

"The woman's out." 

"I know she is. Where is the old man with the white 
hair, and his son ? " 

" The woman's husband, d'ye mean ? " inquired the boy. 

" Aye. Where are those two ? " 

" Out. Something's the matter, somewhere. They were 
fetched out in a hurry, and told me to stop here." 

"Come with me," said the Chemist, "and I'll give you 
money." 

" Come where ? and how much will you give ? " 

" I'll give you more shillings than you ever saw, and bring 
you back soon. Do you know your way to where you came 
from ? " 



REDLAW AND HIS GUIDE. 479 

" You let me go," returned the boy, suddenly twisting out 
of his grasp. " I'm not a-going to take you there. Let me 
be, or I'll heave some fire at you ! " 

He was down before it, and ready, with his savage little 
hand, to pluck the burning coals out. 

What the Chemist had felt, in observing the effect of his 
charmed influence stealing over those with whom he came in 
contact, was not nearly equal to the cold vague terror with 
which he saw this baby-monster put it at defiance. It chilled 
his blood to look on the immovable impenetrable thing, in 
the likeness of a child, with its sharp malignant face turned 
up to his, and its almost infant hand, ready at the bars. 

" Listen, boy ! " he said. " You shall take me where you 
please, so that you take me where the people are very miser- 
able or very wicked. I want to do them good, and not 
to harm them. You shall have money, as I have told you, 
and I will bring you back. Get up ! Come quickly ! " He 
made a hasty step towards the door, afraid of her returning. 

"Will you let me walk by myself, and never hold me, nor 
yet touch me?" said the boy, slowly withdrawing the hand 
with which he threatened, and beginning to get up. 

"I will!" 

"And let me go before, behind, or anyways I like?" 

"I will!" 

"Give me some money first then, and Fll go. 1 * 

The Chemist laid a few shillings, one by one, in his extended 
hand. To count them was beyond the boy's knowledge, but 
he said " one," every time, and avariciously looked at each as it 
was given, and at the donor. He had nowhere to put them, 
out of his hand, but in his mouth ; and he put them there. 

Redlaw then wrote with his pencil on a leaf of his pocket- 
book, that the boy was with him ; and laying it on the table, 
signed to him to follow. Keeping his rags together, as 
usual, the boy complied, and went out with his bare head 
and his naked feet into the winter night. 

Preferring not to depart by the iron gate by which he had 



480 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

entered, where they were in danger of meeting her whom he 
so anxiously avoided, the Chemist led the way, through some 
of those passages among which the boy had lost himself, and 
by that portion of the building where he lived, to a small 
door of which he had the key. When they got into the 
street, he stopped to ask his guide who instantly retreated 
from him if he knew where they were. 

The savage thing looked here and there, and at length, 
nodding his head, pointed in the direction he designed to 
take. Redlaw going on at once, he followed, somewhat less 
suspiciously ; shifting his money from his mouth into his hand, 
and back again into his mouth, and stealthily rubbing it 
bright upon his shreds of clothes, as he went along. 

Three times, in their progress, they were side by side. 
Three times they stopped, being side by side. Three times 
the Chemist glanced down at his face, and shuddered as it 
forced upon him one reflection. 

The first occasion was when they were crossing an old 
churchyard, and Redlaw stopped among the graves, utterly 
at a loss how to connect them with any tender, softening, 
or consolatory thought. 

The second was, when the breaking forth of the moon 
induced him to look up at the Heavens, where he saw her in 
her glory, surrounded by a host of stars he still knew by the 
names and histories which human science has appended to 
them ; but where he saw nothing else he had been wont to 
see, felt nothing he had been wont to feel, in looking up 
there, on a bright night. 

The third was when he stopped to listen to a plaintive 
strain of music, but could only hear a tune, made manifest 
to him by the dry mechanism of the instruments and his 
own ears, with no address to any mystery within him, without 
a whisper in it of the past, or of the future, powerless upon 
him as the sound of last year's running water, or the rushing 
of last year's wind. 

At each of these three times, he saw with horror that, in 



LODGINGS FOR TRAVELLERS. 481 

spite of the vast intellectual distance between them, and their 
being unlike each other in all physical respects, the expression 
on the boy's face was the expression on his own. 

They journeyed on for some time now through such 
crowded places, that he often looked over his shoulder 
thinking he had lost his guide, but generally finding him 
within his shadow on his other side; now by ways so quiet, 
that he could have counted his short, quick, naked footsteps 
coming on behind until they arrived at a ruinous collection 
of houses, and the boy touched him and stopped. 

"In there!" he said, pointing out one house where there 
were scattered lights in the windows, and a dim lantern in 
the doorway, with "Lodgings for Travellers" painted on it. 

Redlaw looked about him; from the houses, to the waste 
piece of ground on which the houses stood, or rather did not 
altogether tumble down, unfenced, undrained, unlighted, and 
bordered by a sluggish ditch ; from that, to the sloping line 
of arches, part of some neighbouring viaduct or bridge with 
which it was surrounded, and which lessened gradually, towards 
them, until the last but one was a mere kennel for a dog, 
the last a plundered little heap of bricks; from that, to the 
child, close to him, cowering and trembling with the cold, and 
limping on one little foot, while he coiled the other round his 
leg to warm it, yet staring at all these things with that fright- 
ful likeness of expression so apparent in his face, that Redlaw 
started from him. 

" In there ! " said the boy, pointing out the house again. 
" HI wait." 

"Will they let me in?" asked Redlaw. 

"Say you're a doctor," he answered with a nod. "There's 
plenty ill here." 

Looking back on his way to the house-door, Redlaw saw 
him trail himself upon the dust and crawl within the shelter 
of the smallest arch, as if he were a rat. He had no pity 
for the thing, but he was afraid of it ; and when it looked 
out of its den at him, he hurried to the house as a retreat. 

*1 



482 THE HAUNTED MAX. 

"Sorrow, wrong, and trouble," said the Chemist, with a 
painful effort at some more distinct remembrance, "at least 
haunt this place, darkly. He can do no harm, who brings 
forgetfulness of such things here ! " 

With these words, he pushed the yielding door, and went in. 

There was a woman sitting on the stairs, either asleep or 
forlorn, whose head was bent down on her hands and knees. 
As it was not easy to pass without treading on her, and as 
she was perfectly regardless of his near approach, he stopped, 
and touched her on the shoulder. Looking up, she showed 
him quite a young face, but one whose bloom and promise 
were all swept away, as if the haggard winter should un- 
naturally kill the spring. 

With little or no show of concern on his account, she 
moved nearer to the wall to leave him a wider passage. 

"What are you? 1 ' 1 said Redlaw, pausing, with his hand 
upon the broken stair-rail. 

" What do you think I amr" she answered, showing him 
her face again. 

He looked upon the ruined Temple of God, so lately made, 
so soon disfigured ; and something, which was not compassion 
for the springs in which a true compassion for such miseries 
has its rise, were dried up in his breast but which was 
nearer to it, for the moment, than any feeling that had lately 
struggled into the darkening, but not yet wholly darkened, 
night of his mind mingled a touch of softness with his next 
words. 

" I am come here to give relief, if I can," he said. " Arc 
you thinking of any wrong ? " 

She frowned at him, and then laughed ; and then her laugh 
prolonged itself into a shivering sigh, as she dropped her 
head again, and hid her fingers in her hair. 

" Are you thinking of a wrong ? " he asked, once more. 

"I am thinking of my life, 11 she said, with a momentary 
look at him. 

He had a perception that she was one of many, and that 



SORROW, WRONG, AND TROUBLE! 483 

he saw the type of thousands, when he saw her, drooping at 

1 / . 

his feet. 

" What are your parents ? " he demanded. 

" I had a good home once. My father was a gardener, far 
away, in the country.'' 1 

" Is he dead ? " 

" He's dead to me. All such things are dead to me. You 
a gentleman, and not know that!" She raised her eyes 
again, and laughed at him. 

"Girl!" said Redlaw, sternly, "before this death, of all 
such things, was brought about, was there no wrong done to 
you ? In spite of all that you can do, does no remembrance 
of wrong cleave to you? Are there not times upon times 
when it is misery to you ? " 

So little of what was womanly was left in her appearance, 
that now, when she burst into tears, he stood amazed. Hut 
he was more amazed, and much disquieted, to note that in 
her awakened recollection of this wrong, the first trace of her 
old humanity and frozen tenderness appeared to show itself. 

He drew a little off, and in doing so, observed that her 
arms were black, her face cut, and her bosom bruised. 

" What brutal hand has hurt you so ? " he asked. 

"My own. I did it myself!" she answered quickly. 

" It is impossible." 

"Til swear I did! He didn't touch me. I did it to 
myself in a passion, and threw myself down here. He 
wasn't near me. He never laid a hand upon me ! " 

In the white determination of her face, confronting him 
with this untruth, he saw enough of the last perversion and 
distortion of good surviving in that miserable breast, to be 
stricken with remorse that he had ever come near her. 

" Sorrow, wrong, and trouble ! " he muttered, turning his 
fearful gaze away. "All that connects her with the state 
from which she has fallen, has those roots ! In the name of 
God, let me go by ! " 

Afraid to look at her again, afraid to touch her, afraid to 



484 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

think of having sundered the last thread by which she held 
upon the mercy of Heaven, he gathered his cloak about him, 
and glided swiftly up the stairs. 

Opposite to him, on the landing, was a door, which stood 
partly open, and which, as he ascended, a man with a candle 
in his hand, came forward from within to shut. But this 
man, on seeing him, drew back, with much emotion in his 
manner, and, as if by a sudden impulse, mentioned his name 
aloud. 

In the surprise of such a recognition there, he stopped, 
endeavouring to recollect the wan and startled face. He 
had no time to consider it, for, to his yet greater amaze- 
ment, old Philip came out of the room, and took him by 
the hand. 

" Mr. Redlaw," said the old man, " this is like you, this is 
like you, sir ! you have heard of it, and have come after us 
to render any help you can. Ah, too late, too late ! " 

Redlaw, with a bewildered look, submitted to be led into 
the room. A man lay there, on a truckle-bed, and William 
Swidger stood at the bedside. 

" Too late ! " murmured the old man, looking wistfully into 
the Chemist's face ; and the tears stole down his cheeks. 

"That's what I say, father," interposed his son in a low 
voice. "That's where it is, exactly. To keep as quiet as 
ever we can while he's a-dozing, is the only thing to do. 
You're right, father ! " 

Redlaw paused at the bedside, and looked down on the 
figure that was stretched upon the mattress. It was that of 
a man, who should have been in the vigour of his life, but 
on whom it was not likely the sun would ever shine again. 
The vices of his forty or fifty years 1 career had so branded 
him, that, in comparison with their effects upon his face, the 
heavy hand of time upon the old man's face who watched 
him had been merciful and beautifying. 

" Who is this ? " asked the Chemist, looking round. 

" My son George, Mr. Redlaw," said the old man, wringing 



THE FAVOURITE SON. 4sr, 

his hands. "My eldest son, George, who was more his 
mother's pride than all the rest ! " 

Redlaw's eyes wandered from the old man's grey head, as 
he laid it down upon the bed, to the person who had recog- 
nised him, and who had kept aloof, in the remotest corner 
of the room. He seemed to be about his own age; and 
although he knew no such hopeless decay and broken man as 
he appeared to be, there was something in the turn of his 
figure, as he stood with his back towards him, and now went 
out at the door, that made him pass his hand uneasily across 
his brow. 

"William," he said in a gloomy whisper, "who is that 
man ? " 

"Why you see, sir," returned Mr. William, "that's what 
I say, myself. Why should a man ever go and gamble, and 
the like of that, and let himself down inch by inch till he 
can't let himself down any lower ! " 

" Has lie done so ? " asked Redlaw, glancing after him 
with the same uneasy action as before. 

" Just exactly that, sir," returned William Swidger, " as Fin 
told. He knows a little about medicine, sir, it seems; and 
having been wayfaring towards London with my unhappy 
brother that you see here," Mr. William passed his coat-sleeve 
across his eyes, " and being lodging up-stairs for the night 
what I say, you see, is that strange companions come together 
here sometimes he looked in to attend upon him, and came 
for us at his request. What a mournful spectacle, sir ! But 
that's where it is. It's enough to kill my father!" 

Redlaw looked up, at these words, and, recalling where he 
was and with whom, and the spell he earned with him 
which his surprise had obscured retired a little, hurriedly, 
debating with himself whether to shun the house that moment, 
or remain. 

Yielding to a certain sullen doggedness, which it seemed 
to be a part of his condition to struggle with, he argued for 
remaining. 



486 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

"Was it only yesterday, 11 he said, "when I observed the 
memory of this old man to be a tissue of sorrow and trouble, 
and shall I be afraid, to-night, to shake it? Are such 
remembrances as I can drive away, so precious to this dying 
man that I need fear for him ? No ! Til stay here." 

But he stayed, in fear and trembling none the less for 
these words; and, shrouded in his black cloak with his face 
turned from them, stood away from the bedside, listening to 
what they said, as if he felt himself a demon in the place. 

" Father ! " murmured the sick man, rallying a little from 
his stupor. 

"My boy! My son George!'" said old Philip. 

"You spoke, just now, of my being mother's favourite, 
long ago. It's a dreadful thing to think now, of long ago !" 

" No, no, no ! " returned the old man. " Think of it. 
Don't say it's dreadful. Ifs not dreadful to me, my son." 

"It cuts you to the heart, father." For the old man's 
tears were falling on him. 

"Yes, yes," said Philip, "so it does; but it does me good. 
It's a heavy sorrow to think of that time, but it does me 
good, George. Oh, think of it too, think of it too, and your 
heart will be softened more and more ! Where's my son 
William? AVilliam, my boy, your mother loved him dearly 
to the last, and with her latest breath said, 'Tell him 
I forgave him, blessed him, and prayed for him." 1 Those 
were her words to me. I have never forgotten them, and I'm 
eighty-seven !" 

"Father!" said the man upon the bed, "I am dying, I 
know. I am so far gone, that I can hardly speak, even 
of what my mind most runs on. Is there any hope for me 
beyond this bed ? " 

"There is hope," returned the old man, "for all who are 
softened and penitent. There is hope for all such. Oh ! " 
he exclaimed, clasping his hands and looking up, " I was 
thankful, only yesterday, that I could remember this unhappy 
son when he was an innocent child. But what a comfort it 



THE OLD MAN'S SUPPLICATION. 487 

is, now, to think that even God himself has that remem- 
brance of him ! " 

Recllaw spread his hands upon his face, and shrunk like a 
murderer. 

"Ah!" feebly moaned the man upon the bed. "The 
waste since then, the waste of life since then ! " 

"But he was a child once," said the old man. " II. 
played with children. Before he lav down on his bed at 
night, and fell into his guiltless rest, he said his prayers at 
his poor mother's knee. I have seen him do it, manv a 
time ; and seen her lay his head upon her breast, and kiss 
him. Sorrowful as it was to her, and to me, to think of 
this, when he went so wrong, and when our hopes and plans 
for him were all broken, this gave him still a hold upon us, 
that nothing else could have given. Oh, Father, so much 
better than the fathers upon earth ! Oh, Father, so much 
more afflicted by the errors of thy children ! take this 
wanderer back ! Not as he is, but as he was then, let him 
cry to thee, as he has so often seemed to cry to us ! " 

As the old man lifted up his trembling hands, the son, 
for whom he made the supplication, laid his sinking head 
against him for support and comfort, as if he were indeed 
the child of whom he spoke. 

When 'did man ever tremble, as Redlaw trembled, in the 
silence that ensued! He knew it must come upon them, 
knew that it was coming fast. 

" My time is very short, my breath is shorter," said the 
sick man, supporting himself on one arm, and with the other 
groping in the air, "and I remember there is something on 
my mind concerning the man who was here just now. Father 
and William wait ! is there really anything in black, out 
there ? " 

" Yes, yes, it is real," said his aged father. 

" Is it a man ? " 

"What I say myself, George," interposed his brother, 
bending kindly over him. " It's Mr. Redlaw." 



488 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

" I thought I had dreamed of him. Ask him to come here/" 1 

The Chemist, whiter than the dying man, appeared before 
him. Obedient to the motion of his hand, he sat upon the 
bed. 

" It has been so ripped up, to-night, sir," said the sick 
man, laying his hand upon his heart, with a look in which 
the mute, imploring agony of his condition was concentrated, 
" by the sight of my poor old father, and the thought of all 
the trouble I have been the cause of, and all the wrong and 
sorrow lying at my door, that " 

Was it the extremity to which he had come, or was it 
the dawning of another change, that made him stop ? 

" that what I can do right, with my mind running on 
so much, so fast, Til try to do. There was another man 
here. Did you see him ? " 

Redlaw could not reply by any word; for when he saw 
that fatal sign he knew so well now, of the wandering hand 
upon the forehead, his voice died at his lips. But he made 
some indication of assent. 

" He is penniless, hungry, and destitute. He is completely 
beaten down, and has no resource at all. Look after him ! 
Lose no time ! I know he has it in his mind to kill himself/ 1 

It was working. It was on his face. His face was 
changing, hardening, deepening in all its shades, and losing 
all its sorrow. 

" Don't you remember ? Don't you know him ? " he pursued. 

He shut his face out for a moment, with the hand that 
again wandered over his forehead, and then it lowered on 
Redlaw, reckless, ruffianly, and callous. 

" Why, d n you ! " he said, scowling round, " what have 
you been doing to me here ! I have lived bold, and I mean 
to die bold. To the Devil with you ! " 

And so lay down upon his bed, and put his arms up, over 
his head and ears, as resolute from that time to keep out all 
access, and to die in his indifference. 

If Redlaw had been struck by lightning, it could not have 



THE GIFT BESIDE A DEATH-BED. 489 

struck him from the bedside with a more tremendous shook. 
But the old man, who had left the bed while his son was 
speaking to him, now returning, avoided it quickly likewise, 
and with abhorrence. 

"Where's my boy William?'' 1 said the old man hurriedly. 
"William, come away from here. Well go home." 

" Home, father ! " returned William. " Are you going to 
leave your own son?"" 

"Where's my own son? 11 replied the old man. 

"Where? why, there! 11 

" That's no son of mine," said Philip, trembling with re- 
sentment. " No such wretch as that, has any claim on me. 
My children are pleasant to look at, and they wait upon me, 
and get my meat and drink ready, and are useful to me. I've 
a right to it ! I'm eighty-seven ! " 

"YouVe old enough to be no older, 11 muttered William, 
looking at him grudgingly, with his hands in his pockets. 
" I don't know what good you are, myself. AVe could have 
a deal more pleasure without you."" 

" My son, Mr. Redlaw ! " said the old man. " My son, too ! 
The boy talking to me of my son ! Why, what has he 
ever done to give me any pleasure, I should like to know? 11 

"I don't know what you have ever done to give me any 
pleasure, 11 said William, sulkily. 

" Let me think," said the old man. " For how many 
Christmas times running, have I sat in my warm place, and 
never had to come out in the cold night air ; and have made 
good cheer, without being disturbed by 'any such uncomfort- 
able, wretched sight as him there ? Is it twenty, William ?" 
" Nigher forty, it seems," he muttered. " Why, when I 
look at my father, sir, and come to think of it," addressing 
Redlaw, with an impatience and irritation that were quite 
new, " I'm whipped if I can see anything in him but a 
calendar of ever so many years of eating and drinking, and 
making himself comfortable, over and over again." 

II'm eighty-seven," said the old man, rambling on, 



490 THE HAUNTED MAX. 

childishly and weakly, " and I don't know as I ever was much 
put out by anything. I'm not going to begin now, because 
of what he calls my son. He's not my son. I've had a 
power of pleasant times. I recollect once no I don't no, 
it's broken off. It was something about a game of cricket 
and a friend of mine, but it's somehow broken oft*. I wonder 
who he was I suppose I liked him ? And I wonder what 
became of him I suppose he died ? But I don't know. 
And I don't care, neither ; I don't care a bit." 

In his drowsy chuckling, and the shaking of his head, 
he put his hands into his waistcoat-pockets. In one of 
them he found a bit of holly (left there, probably last night), 
which he now took out, and looked at. 

" Berries, eh ? " said the old man. " Ah ! It's a pity 
they're not good to eat. I recollect, when I was a little 
chap about as high as that, and out a-walking with let me 
see who was I out a-walking with ? no, I don't remember 
how that was. I don't remember as I ever walked with any 
one particular, or cared for any one, or any one for me. 
Berries, eh ? There's good cheer when there's berries. Well ; 
I ought to have my share of it, and to be waited on, and 
kept warm and comfortable; for I'm eighty-seven, and a 
poor old man. I'm eigh-ty-seven. Eigh-ty-seven ! " 

The drivelling, pitiable manner in which, as he repeated 
this, he nibbled at the leaves, and spat the morsels out ; the 
cold, uninterested eye with which his youngest son (so 
changed) regarded him ; the determined apathy with which 
his eldest son lay hardened in his sin ; impressed themselves 
no more on Redlaw's observation; for he broke his way 
from the spot to which his feet seemed to have been fixed, 
and ran out of the house. 

His guide came crawling forth from his place of refuge, 
and was ready for him before he reached the arches. 

" Back to the woman's ? " he inquired. 

<; Back, quickly ! " answered Redlaw. " Stop nowhere on 
the way." 



THE BOY BEFORE THE FIRE. 401 

For a short distance the boy went on before ; but their 
return was more like a flight than a walk, and it was as 
much as his bare feet could do, to keep pace with the 
Chemist's rapid strides. Shrinking from all who passed, 
shrouded in his cloak, and keeping it drawn closely about him, 
as though there were mortal contagion in any fluttering touch 
of his garments, he made no pause until they reached t In- 
door by which they 
had come out. He 
unlocked it with his 
key, went in, accom- 
panied by the boy, 
and hastened through 
the dark passages to 
his own chamber. 

The boy watched 
him as he made the 
door fast, and with- 
drew behind the table, 
when he looked round. 
"Come!" he said. 
" Don't you touch me ! 
You've not brought 
me here to take my 
money away."" 

Redlaw threw some 
more upon the ground . ~- 
He flung his body on 
it immediately, as if to hide it from him, lest the sight of it 
should tempt him to reclaim it; and not until he saw him 
seated by his lamp, with his face hidden in his hands, began 
furtively to pick it up. When he had done so, he crept near 
the fire, and, sitting down in a great chair l>efore it, took from 
his breast some broken scraps of food, and fell to munching, 
and to staring at the bla/e, and now and then to glancing at. 
his shillings, which he kept clenched up in a bunch, in one hand 




492 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

"And this," said Redlaw, gazing on him with increased 
repugnance and fear, " is the only one companion I have left 
on earth." 

How long it was before he was aroused from his con- 
templation of this creature, whom he dreaded so whether 
half an hour, or half the night he knew not. But the 
stillness of the room was broken by the boy (whom he 
had seen listening) starting up, and running towards the 
door. 

" Here's the woman coming !" he exclaimed. 
The Chemist stopped him on his way, at the moment 
when she knocked. 

" Let me go to her, will you ? " said the boy. 
" Not now, 1 ' returned the Chemist. " Stay here. Nobody 
must pass in or out of the room now. Who's that ? " 
" It's I, sir," cried Milly. " Pray, sir, let me in ! " 
" No ! not for the world ! " he said. 
" Mr. Iledlaw, Mr. Redlaw, pray, sir, let me in."" 
" What is the matter ? '" he said, holding the boy. 
"The miserable man you saw, is worse, and nothing I 
can say will wake him from his terrible infatuation. William's 
father has turned childish in a moment. William himself is 
changed. The shock has been too sudden for him ; I cannot 
understand him ; he is not like himself. Oh, Mr. Redlaw, 
pray advise me, help me ! " 

"No! No! No! "he answered. 

" Mr. Redlaw ! Dear sir ! George has been muttering, in 
his doze, about the man you saw there, who, he fears, will 
kill himself." 

" Better he should do it, than come near me ! " 
"He says, in his wanderings, that you know him; that 
he was your friend once, long ago; that he is the ruined 
father of a student here my mind misgives me, of the young 
gentleman who has been ill. What is to be done ? How is 
he to be followed ? How is he to be saved ? Mr. Rediaw. 
pray, oh, pray, advise me ! Help me ! " 



PRAYER FOR RELIEF. 493 

All this time he held the boy, who was half-mad to pass 
him, and let her in. 

" Phantoms ! Punishers of impious thoughts ! " cried Red- 
law, gazing round in anguish. " Look upon me ! From the 
darkness of my mind, let the glimmering of contrition that 
I know is there, shine up, and show my misery! In the 
material world, as I have long taught, nothing can be spared ; 
no step or atom in the wondrous structure could be lost, 
without a blank being made in the great universe. I know, 
now, that it is the same with good and evil, happiness and 
sorrow, in the memories of men. Pity me ! Relieve me ! "" 

There was no response, but her " Help me, help me, let 
me in ! " and the boy's struggling to get to her. 

" Shadow of myself ! Spirit of my darker hours ! " cried 
Redlaw, in distraction. "Come back, ai.d haunt me day 
and night, but take this gift away ! Or, if it must still 
rest with me, deprive me of the dreadful power of giving it 
to others. Undo what I have done. Leave me benighted, 
but restore the day to those whcm I have cursed. As I 
have spared this woman from the first, and as I never will 
go forth again, but will die here, with no hand to tend me, 
save this creature's who is pi oof against me, hear me ! fl 

The only reply still was, the boy struggling to get to her, 
while he held him back ; and the cry, increasing in its 
energy, " Help ! let me in. He was your friend once, how 
shall he be followed, how shall he be saved ? They are all 
changed, there is no one else to help me, pray, pray, let 



_ - i -S: -: 




CHAPTER III. 

THE GIFT REVERSED. 

NIGHT was still heavy in the sky. On open 
plains, from hill-tops, and from the decks of soli- 
tary ships at sea, a distant low-lying line, that 
promised by-and-by to change to light, was visible 
in the dim horizon ; but its promise was remote and 

doubtful, and the 
moon was striving 
with the night- 
clouds busily. 

The shadows 
upon Red law's 
mind succeeded 
thick and fast to 
one another, and 
obscured its light as the night-clouds hovered between the 
moon and earth, and kept the latter veiled in darkness. 
Fitful and uncertain as the shadows which the night-clouds 




CHRISTMAS MUSIC. 495 

cast, were their concealments from him, and imperfect revela- 
tions to him; and, like the night-clouds still, if the clear 
light broke forth for a moment, it was only that they might 
sweep over it, and make the darkness deeper than before. 

Without, there was a profound and solemn hush upon the 
ancient pile of buildings, and its buttresses and angles made 
dark shapes of mystery upon the ground, which now seemed 
to retire into the smooth white snow and now seemed to 
come out of it, as the moon's path was more or less he-set. 
Within, the Chemist's room was indistinct and mtirkv, In 
the light of the expiring lamp; a ghostly silence had suc- 
ceeded to the knocking and the voice outside; nothing \\.i-, 
audible but, now and then, a low sound among the whitened 
ashes of the fire, as of its yielding up its last breath. Before 
it on the ground the boy lay fast asleep. In his chair, the 
Chemist sat, as he had sat there since the calling at his door 
had ceased like a man turned to stone. 

At such a time, the Christmas music he had heard lx?fore, 
began to play. He listened to it at first, as he had listened 
in the churchyard; but presently it playing still, and being 
borne towards him on the night-air, in a low, sweet, melan- 
choly strain he rose, and stood stretching his hands about 
him, as if there were some friend approaching within his 
reach, on whom his desolate touch might rest, yet do no 
harm. As he did this, his face became less fixed and 
Avondering ; a gentle trembling came upon him ; and at last 
his eyes filled with tears, and he put his hands before them, 
and bowed down his head. 

His memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble, had not come 
back to him ; he knew that it was not restored ; he had no 
passing belief or hope that it was. But some dumb stir 
within him made him capable, again, of being moved by what 
was hidden, afar oft', in the music. If it were only that it 
told him sorrowfullv the value of what he had ht, he 
thanked Heaven for it with a fervent gratitude. 

As the last chord died upon his ears, he raided his head 



496 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

to listen to its lingering vibration. Beyond the boy, so that 
his sleeping figure lay at its feet, the Phantom stood, im- 
movable and silent, with its eyes upon him. 

Ghastly it was, as it had ever been, but not so cruel 
and relentless in its aspect or he thought or hoped so, as 
he looked upon it, trembling. It was not alone, but in its 
shadowy hand it held another hand. 

And whose was that? Was the form that stood beside it 
indeed Milly's, or but her shade and picture ? The quiet 
head was bent a little, as her manner was, and her eyes were 
looking down, as if in pity, on the sleeping child. A radiant 
light fell on her face, but did not touch the Phantom ; 
for, though close beside her, it was dark and colourless 
as ever. 

" Spectre ! " said the Chemist, newly troubled as he looked, 
" I have not been stubborn or presumptuous in respect to her. 
Oh, do not bring her here. Spare me that ! " 

" This is but a shadow," said the Phantom ; " when the 
morning shines seek out the reality whose image I present 
before you." 

"Is it my inexorable doom to do so?" cried the Chemist. 

" It is," replied the Phantom. 

" To destroy her peace, her goodness ; to make her what I 
am myself, and what I have made of others ! " 

" I have said, * seek her out,' " returned the Phantom. " I 
have said no more. 

"Oh, tell me," exclaimed Kedlaw, catching at the hoj>e 
which he fancied might lie hidden in the words. " Can I 
undo what I have done ? " 

" No," returned the Phantom. 

I do not ask for restoration to myself," said Redlaw. 
" What I abandoned, I abandoned of my own will, and have 
justly lost. But for those to whom I have transferred the 
fatal gift ; who never sought it ; who unknowingly received a 
curse of which they had no warning, and which they had no 
power to shun ; can I do nothing ? " 



SEEK HER OUT. 497 

" Nothing, 1 ' said the Phantom. 

" If I cannot, can any one ? " 

The Phantom, standing like a statue, kept his gaze upon 
him for a while; then turned its head suddenly, and looked 
upon the shadow at its side. 

"Ah! Can she?" cried Redlaw, still looking upon the 
shade. 

The Phantom released the hand it had retained till now. 
and softly raised its own with a gesture of dismissal. Upon 
that, her shadow, still preserving the same attitude, began to 
move or melt away. 

" Stay," cried Redlaw with an earnestness to which he could 
not give enough expression. " For a moment ! As an act of 
mercy ! I know that some change fell upon me, when those 
sounds were in the air just now. Tell me have I lost the 
power of harming her? May I go near her without dread? 
Oh, let her give me any sign of hope ! " 

The Phantom looked upon the shade as he did not at 
him and gave no answer. 

" At least, say this has she, henceforth, the consciousness 
of any power to set right what I have done ? " 

"She has not," the Phantom answered. 

" Has she the power bestowed on her without the conscious- 
ness ? " 

The Phantom answered : " Seek her out."" And her shadow 
slowly vanished. 

Thev were face to face again, and looking on each other, 
as intently and awfully as at the time of the bestowal of the 
gift, across the bov who still lay on the ground between them, 
at the Phantom's feet. 

" Terrible instructor,"" said the Chemist, sinking on his knee 
before it, in an attitude of supplication, " by whom I was re- 
nounced, but by whom I am revisited (in which, and in whose 
milder aspect, I would fain believe I have a gleam of hope), I 
will obey without inquiry, praying that the cry I have sent 
up in the anguish of my soul has been, or will be, heard, in 



498 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

behalf of those whom I have injured beyond human repara- 
tion. But there is one thing " 

"You speak to me of what is lying here,"" the Phantom 
interposed, and pointed with its finger to the boy. 

" I do," returned the Chemist. " You know what I would 
ask. Why has this child alone been proof against my 
influence, and why, why, have I detected in its thoughts a 
terrible companionship with mine ? " 

" This," said the Phantom, pointing to the boy, " is the 
last, completest illustration of a human creature, utterly 
bereft of such remembrances as you have yielded up. No 
softening memory of sorrow, wrong, or trouble enters here, 
because this wretched mortal from his birth has been aban- 
doned to a worse condition than the beasts, and has, within 
his knowledge, no one contrast, no humanising touch, to make 
a grain of such a memory spring up in his hardened breast. 
All within this desolate creature is barren wilderness. All 
within the man bereft of what you have resigned, is the same 
barren wilderness. Woe to such a man ! Woe, tenfold, to 
the nation that shall count its monsters such as this, lying 
here, by hundreds, and by thousands ! " 

Red law shrunk, appalled, from what he heard. 

" There is not," said the Phantom, " one of these not 
one but shows a harvest that mankind MUST HEAP. From 
every seed of evil in this boy, a field of ruin is grown that 
shall be gathered in, and garnered up, and sown again in 
many places in the world, until regions are overspread with 
wickedness enough to raise the waters of another Deluge. 
Open and unpunished murder in a city's streets would be 
less guilty in its daily toleration, than one such spectacle 
as this." 

It seemed to look down upon the boy in his sleep. Redlaw, 
too, looked down upon him with a new emotion. 

" There is not a father," said the Phantom, " by whose side 
in his daily or his nightly walk, these creatures pass; there 
is not a mother among all the ranks of loving mothers in 



DAYBREAK. 499 

this land ; there is no one risen from the state of childhood, 
but shall be responsible in his or her degree for this enormitv. 
There is not a country throughout the earth on which it 
would not bring a curse. There is no religion upon earth that 
it would not deny ; there is no people upon earth it would 
not put to shame." 

The Chemist clasped his hands, and looked, with trembling 
fear and pity, from the sleeping boy to the Phantom, standing 
above him with its finger pointing down. 

"Behold, I say," pursued the Spectre, "the perfect type of 
what it was your choice to be. Your influence is powerless 
here, because from this child's bosom you can banish nothing. 
His thoughts have been in 'terrible companionship' with 
yours, because you have gone down to his unnatural level. He 
is the growth of man's indifference ; you are the growth of 
man's presumption. The beneficent design of Heaven is in 
each case, overthrown, and from the two poles of the im- 
material world you come together." 

The Chemist stooped upon the ground beside the boy, and, 
with the same kind of compassion for him that he now felt 
for himself, covered him as he slept, and no longer shrunk 
from him with abhorrence or indifference. 

Soon, now, the distant line on the horizon brightened, the 
darkness faded, the sun rose red and glorious, and the 
chimney stacks and gables of the ancient building gleamed 
in the clear air, which turned the smoke and vapour of the 
city into a cloud of gold. The very sun-dial in his shady 
corner, where the wind was used to spin' with such un-windy 
constancy, shook off' the finer particles of snow that had 
accumulated on his dull old face in the night, and looked 
out at the little white wreaths eddying round and round 
him. Doubtless some blind groping of the morning made 
its way down into the forgotten crypt so cold and earthy, 
where the Norman arches were half buried in the ground, 
and stirred the dull deep sap in the lazy vegetation hang- 
ing to the walls, and quickened the slow principle of life 



500 



THE HAUNTED MAN. 



within the little world of wonderful and delicate creation 
which existed there, with some faint knowledge that the 
sun was up. 

The Tetterbys were up, and doing. Mr. Tetterbv took 
down the shutters of the shop, and, 
strip by strip, revealed the treasures 
of the window to the eyes, so proof 
against their seductions, of Je- 

1 il } " ~~*Sl>fci3lCiCJ^ ^- rusalem Build, 

ings. Adolphus 
had been out 
so long already, 
that he was 
halfway on to 
Morning Pep- 
per. Five small 
Tetterbys, 
whose ten round 
eyes were much 
inflamed by soap 
and friction, 
were in the tor- 
tures of a cool 
wash in the back 
kitchen ; Mrs. 
Tetterbv pre- 
siding. Johnny, 
who was pushed 
and hustled 
through his 
toilet with great 

rapidity when Moloch chanced to be in an exacting frame 
of mind (which was always the case), staggered up and 
down with his charge before the shop door, under greater 
difficulties than usual; the weight of Moloch being much 
increased by a complication of defences against the cold, 




YOUNG MOLOCH. 501 

composed of knitted worsted -work, and forming a com- 
plete suit of chain-armour, with n head-piece and blue 
gaiters. 

It was a peculiarity of this baby to be always cutting teeth. 
Whether they never came, or whether they came and went 
away again, is not in evidence ; but it had certainly cut 
enough, on the showing of Mrs. Tetterby, to make a hand- 
some dental provision for the sign of the Bull and Mouth. 
All sorts of objects were impressed for the rubbing of its 
gums, notwithstanding that it always carried, dangling at its 
waist (which was immediately under its chin), a bone ring, 
large enough to have represented the rosarv of a young nun. 
Knife-handles, umbrella-tops, the heads of walking-stick^ 
selected from the stock, the fingers of the family in general, 
but especially of Johnny, nutmeg-graters, crusts, the handles 
of doors, and the cool knobs on the tops of pokers, \\crc 
among the commonest instruments indiscriminately applied 
for this baby's relief. The amount of electricity that must 
have been rubbed out of it in a week, is not to be 
calculated. Still Mrs. Tetterby always said "it was coming 
through, and then the child would be herself;" and still it 
never did come through, and the child continued to Ix- 
somebody else. 

The tempera of the little Tetterbys had sadly changed 
with a few hours. Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby themselves \\viv 
not more altered than their offspring. Usually they were an 
unselfish, good-natured, yielding little race, sharing short- 
commons when it happened (which was pretty often) con- 
tentedly and even generously, and taking a great deal of 
enjoyment out of a very little meat. But they were fighting 
now, not only for the soap and water, but even for the break- 
fast which was yet in perspective. The hand of every littlr 
Tetterby was against the other little Tetterbys; and i\n 
Johnny's hand the patient, much-enduring, and devoted 
Johnny rose against the baby ! Yes, Mrs. Tetterby, going 
to the" door by a mere accident, saw him viciously pick out 



502 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

a weak place; in the suit of armour where a slap would tell, 
and slap that blessed child. 

Mrs. Tetterby had him into the parlour by the collar, in 
that same flash of time, and repaid him the assault with usury 
thereto. 

" You brute, you murdering little boy,"" said Mrs. Tetterby. 
" Had you the heart to do it ? " 

" Why don't her teeth come through, then," retorted 
Johnny, in a loud rebellious voice, " instead of bothering 
me? How would you like it yourself?" 

"Like it, sir!" said Mi's. Tetterby, relieving him of his 
dishonoured load. 

" Yes, like it," said Johnny. " How would you ? Not at 
all. If you was me, you'd go for a soldier. I will, too. 
There an't no babies in the army." 

Mr. Tetterby, who had arrived upon the scene of action, 
rubbed his chin thoughtfully, instead of correcting the rebel, 
and seemed rather struck by this view of a military life. 

" I wish I was in the army myself, if the child's in the 
right," said Mrs. Tetterby, looking at her husband, " for I 
have no peace of my life here. Tin a slave a Virginia 
slave;" some indistinct association with their weak descent 
on the tobacco trade perhaps suggested this aggravated ex- 
pression to Mrs. Tetterby. " I never have a holiday, or any 
pleasure at all, from year's end to year's end ! Why, Lord 
bless and save the child," said Mrs. Tetterby, shaking the 
baby with an irritability hardly suited to so pious an as- 
piration, " what's the matter with her now ? " 

Not being able to discover, and not rendering the subject 
much clearer by shaking it, Mrs. Tetterby put the baby away 
in a cradle, and, folding her arms, sat rocking it angrily with 
her foot. 

" How you stand there, ' Dolphus," said Mrs. Tetterby to 
her husband. " Why don't you do something ? " 

" Because I don't care about doing anything," Mr. Tetterby 
replied. 



THE SHADOW ON THE TETTERBYS. 503 

"I am sure / don't," said Mrs. Tetterhv. 

" I'll take my oath / don't," said Mr. Tetterby. 

A diversion arose here among Johnny and his five younger 
brothers, who, in preparing the family breakfast table, had 
fallen to skirmishing for the temporary possession of the loaf, 
and were buffeting one another with great heartiness ; the 
smallest boy of all, with precocious discretion, hovering out- 
side the knot of combatants, and harassing their legs. Into 
the midst of this fray, Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby both precipitated 
themselves with great ardour, as if such ground were the only 
ground on which they could now agree ; and having, with no 
visible remains of their late soft-hearted ness, laid about them 
without any lenity, and done much execution, resumed their 
former relative positions. 

"You had better read your paper than do nothing at all," 
said Mrs. Tetterby. 

"What's there to read in a paper?" returned Mr. 
Tetterby, with excessive discontent. 

" What ? " said Mrs. Tetterby. " Police." 

" It's nothing to me," said Tetterby. * What do I care 
what people do, or are done to?" 

" Suicides," suggested Mrs. Tetterby. 

" No business of mine," replied her husband. 

" Births, deaths, and marriages, are those nothing to you " 
said Mrs. Tetterby. 

" If the births were all over for good, and all to-day : 
and the deaths were all to begin to come off to-morrow ; 
I don't see why it should interest me, till I thought it was 
a-coming to my turn," grumbled Tetterby. "As to mar- 
riages, I've done it myself. I know quite enough about 
them."" 

To judge from the dissatisfied expression of her face and 
manner, Mrs. Tetterby appeared to entertain the vim- 
opinions as her husband ; but she opposed him, nevertheless, 
for the gratification of quarrelling with him. 

"Oh, you're a consistent man," said Mrs. Tetterby, "an't 



504 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

you ? You, with the screen of your own making there, made 
of nothing else but bits of newspapers, which you sit and 
read to the children by the half-hour together ! " 

" Say used to, if you please," returned her husband. " You 
won't find me doing so any more. I'm wiser, now." 

" Bah ! wiser, indeed ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. " Are you 
better ? " 

The question sounded some discordant note in Mr. 
Tetterby's breast. He ruminated dejectedly, and passed his 
hand across and across his forehead. 

" Better ! " murmured Mr. Tetterby. " I don't know as 
any of us are better, or happier either. Better, is it ? " 

He turned to the screen, and traced about it with his 
finger, until he found a certain paragraph of which he was 
in quest. 

" This used to be one of the family favourites, I recollect," 
said Tetterby, in a forlorn and stupid way, "and used to 
draw tears from the children, and make 'em good, if there 
was any little bickering or discontent among 'em, next to the 
story of the robin redbreasts in the wood. ' Melancholy case 
of destitution. Yesterday a small man, with a baby in his 
arms, and surrounded by half-a-dozen ragged little ones, of 
various ages between ten and two, the whole of whom were 
evidently in a famishing condition, appeared before the 
worthy magistrate, and made the following recital : ' Ha ! I 
don't understand it, I'm sure," said Tetterby; "I don't see 
what it has got to do with us." 

" How old and shabby he looks," said Mrs. Tetterby, 
watching him. " I never saw such a change in a man. Ah ! 
dear me, dear me, dear me, it was a sacrifice ! " 

" What was a sacrifice ? " her husband sourly inquired. 

Mrs. Tetterby shook her head ; and without replying in 
words, raised a complete sea-storm about the baby, by her 
violent agitation of the cradle. 

" If you mean your marriage was a sacrifice, my good 
woman " said her husband. 



AN OUTRAGE ON DR. WAITS. 505 

" I do mean it,' 1 said his wife. 

"Why, then I mean to say, 11 pursued Mr. Tetterby, as 
sulkily and surlily as she, that there are two sides to that 
affair; and that / was the sacrifice; and that I wish the 
sacrifice hadn't been accepted." 

"I wish it hadn't, Tetterby, with all my heart and soul I 
do assure you," said his wife. "You can't wish it more that. 
I do, Tetterby." 

" I don't know what I saw in her," muttered the newsman, 
4i I'm sure : certainly, if I saw anything, it's not there now. 
I was thinking so, last night, after supper, by the fire. She's 
fat, she's ageing, she won't bear comparison with most other 
women." 

" He's common-looking, he has no air with him, he's small, 
he's beginning to stoop, and he's getting bald," nmttnvd 
Mrs. Tetterby. 

" I must have been half out of my mind when I did it," 1 
muttered Mr. Tetterby. 

"My senses must have forsook me. That's the only way 
in which I can explain it to myself," said Mrs. Tetterbv, with 
elaboration. 

In this mood they sat down to breakfast. The little 
Tetterbys were not habituated to regard that meal in the 
light of a sedentary occupation, but discussed it as a dance 
or trot; rather resembling a savage ceremony, in the 
occasional shrill whoops, and brandishings of bread und 
butter, with which it was accompanied, as well as in the 
intricate filings oft' into the street and' back again, and the 
hoppings up and down the doorsteps, which were incidental 
to the performance. In the present instance, the contentions 
between these Tetterby children for the milk-and-water jug, 
common to all, which stood upon the table, presented so 
lamentable an instance of angry passions risen very high 
indeed, that it was an outrage on the memory of Doctor 
Watts. It was not until Mr. Tetterby hat! driven the whole 
herd out at the front door, that a moment's peace was 



506 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

secured; and even that was broken by the discovery that 
Johnny had surreptitiously come back, and was at that 
instant choking in the jug like a ventriloquist, in his indecent 
and rapacious haste. 

"These children will be the death of me at last!" said 
Mrs. Tetterbv, after banishing the culprit. " And the 
sooner the better, I think." 

" Poor people," said Mr. Tetterby, " ought not to have 
children at all. They give 11,1 no pleasure." 

He was at that moment taking up the cup which Mrs. 
Tetterby had rudely pushed towards him, and Mrs. Tetterbv 
was lifting her own cup to her lips, when they were both 
stopped, as if they were transfixed. 

" Here ! Mother ! Father ! " cried Johnny, running into 
the room. " Here's Mrs. William coming down the 
street ! " 

And if ever, since the world began, a young boy took a 
baby from a cradle with the care of an old nurse, and hushed 
and soothed it tenderly, and tottered away with it cheerfully, 
Johnny was that boy, and Moloch was that baby, as they 
went out together ! 

Mr. Tetterby put down his cup ; Mrs. Tetterby put down 
her cup. Mr. Tetterby rubbed his forehead; Mrs. Tetterby 
rubbed hers. Mr. Tetterby's face began to smooth and 
brighten; Mrs. Tetterby's began to smooth and brighten. 

" Why, Lord forgive me," said Mr. Tetterby to himself, 
"what evil tempers have I been giving way to? What has 
been the matter here ! " 

" How could I ever treat him ill again, after all I said and 
felt last night!" sobbed Mrs. Tetterby, with her apron to 
her eyes. 

"Am I a brute," said Mr. Tetterby, " or is there any good 
in me at all ? Sophia ! My little woman ! " 

" 'Dolphus dear," returned his wife. 

"I I've been in a state of mind," said Mr. Tetterby, 
" that I can't abear to think -of, Sophy." 



THE ATMOSPHERE BRIGHTENS. 507 

Oh ! It's nothing to what I've been in, Dolf," cried his 
wife in a great burst of grief. 

" My Sophia," said Mr. Tetterby, " don't take on. I never 
shall forgive myself. I must have nearly broke your heart, 
I know. 1 " 

" No, Dolf, no. It was me ! Me ! " cried Mrs. Tetterby. 

" My little woman," said her husband, " don't. You make 
me reproach myself dreadful, when you show such a noble 
spirit. Sophia, my dear, you don't know what I thought. I 
showed it bad enough, no doubt; but what I thought, niv 
little woman !"- 

" Oh, dear Dolf, don't ! Don't ! " cried his wife. 

"Sophia," said Mr. Tetterby, "I must reveal it. I 
couldn't rest in my conscience unless I mentioned it. My 
little woman " 

" Mrs. William's very nearly here ! " screamed Johnny at 
the door. 

" My little woman, I wondered how," gasped Mr. Tetterby, 
supporting himself by his chair, " I wondered how I had ever 
admired you I forgot the precious children you have brought 
about me, and thought you didn't look as slim as I could 
wish. I I never gave a recollection," said Mr. Tetterby, 
with severe self-accusation, "to the cares you've had as my 
wife, and along of me and mine, when you might have had 
hardlv anv with another man, who got on better and was 
luckier than me (anybody might have found such a man 
easily, I am sure); and I quarrelled with you for having 
aged a little in the rough years you 1 have lightened for 
me. Can you believe it, my little woman ? I hardly can 
myself." 

Mrs. Tetterby, in a whirlwind of laughing and crying. 
caught his face within her hands, and held it there. 

" Oh, Dolf! " she cried. " I am so happy that you thought 
so; I am so grateful that you thought so! For I thought 
that you were common-looking, Dolf; and so you aiv. my 
dear, and may you be the commonest of all sights in my 



508 



THE HAUNTED MAN. 



eyes, till you close them with your own good hands. I 
thought that you were small; and so you are, and I'll make 
much of you because you are, and more of you because I love 
my husband. I thought that you began to stoop ; and so you 
do, and you shall lean on me, and Fll do all I can to keep 
you up. I thought there was no air about you ; but there is, 




and it's the air of home, and that's the purest and the best 
there is, and GOD bless home once more, and all belonging to 
it, Dolf!" 

" Hurrah ! Here's Mrs. William ! " cried Johnny. 

So she was, and all the children with her ; and as she came 
in, they kissed her, and kissed one another, and kissed the 
baby, and kissed their father and mother, and then ran back 



MILLY'S RECEPTION. .509 

and flocked and danced about her, trooping on with her in 
triumph. 

Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby were not a bit behind-hand in the 
warmth of their reception. They were as much attracted to 
her as the children were; they ran towards her, kissed her 
hands, pressed round her, could not receive her ardently or 
enthusiastically enough. She came among them like the 
spirit of all goodness, affection, gentle consideration, love, 
and domesticity. 

"Whatl are you all so glad to see me, too, this bright. 
Christmas morning?' 1 said Milly, clapping her hands in a 
pleasant wonder. "Oh dear, how delightful this is!" 

More shouting from the children, more kissing, more 
trooping round her, more happiness, more Jove, more joy, 
more honour, on all sides, than she could bear. 

"Oh dear!" said Milly, "what delicious tears you mak<- 
me shed. How can I ever have deserved this ! What have 
I done to be so loved ? " 

" Who can help it ! " cried Mr. Tetterbv. 

" Who can help it ! " cried Mrs. Tetterby. 

"Who can help it!"" echoed the children, in a joyful 
chorus. And they danced and trooped about her again, and 
clung to her, and laid their rosy faces against her dress, and 
kissed and fondled it, and could not fondle it, or her, enough. 

" I never was so moved," said Millv, drying her eves, "as I 
have been this morning. I must tell you, as soon as I can 
speak. Mr. Redlaw came to me at sunrise, and with a 
tenderness in his manner, more as if J had been his darling 
daughter than myself, implored me to go with him to where 
William's brother George is lying ill. We went together, 
and all the way along he was so kind, and so subdued, and 
seemed to put such trust and hope in me, that I could not 
help crying with pleasure. W r hen we got to the house, we 
met a woman at the door (somebody had bruised and hurt 
her, I am afraid) who caught me by the hand, and blessed 
me as I passed." 



510 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

"She was right, 11 said Mr. Tetterby. Mrs. Tetterby said 
she was right. All the children cried out she was right. 

"Ah, but there's more than that," said Milly. " When 
we got up-stairs, into the room, the sick man who had lain 
for hours in a state from which no effort could rouse him, 
rose up in his bed, and, bursting into tears, stretched out his 
arms to me, and said that he had led a mis-spent life, but 
that he was truly repentant now, in his sorrow for the past, 
which was all as plain to him as a great prospect, from 
which a dense black cloud had cleared away, and that he 
entreated me to ask his poor old father for his pardon and 
his blessing, and to say a prayer beside his bed. And when 
I did so, Mr. Redlaw joined in it so fervently, and then 
so thanked and thanked me, and thanked Heaven, that my 
heart quite overflowed, and I could have done nothing but 
sob and cry, if the sick man had not begged me to sit down 
by him, which made me quiet of course. As I sat there, 
he held my hand in his until he sunk in a doze ; and even 
then, when I withdrew my hand to leave him to come 
here (which Mr. Redlaw was very earnest indeed in wishing 
me to do), his hand felt for mine, so that some one else was 
obliged to take my place and make believe to give him my 
hand back. Oh dear, oh dear, 11 said Milly, sobbing. " How 
thankful and how happy I should feel, and do feel, for 
all this ! " 

While she was speaking, Redlaw had come in, and, after 
pausing for a moment to observe the group of which she was 
the centre, had silently ascended the stairs. Upon those 
stairs he now appeared again; remaining there, while the 
young student passed him, and came running down. 

"Kind nurse, gentlest, best of creatures, 11 he said, falling 
on his knee to her, and catching at her hand, "forgive my 
cruel ingratitude ! " 

"Oh dear, oh dear! 11 cried Milly innocently, "here's 
another of them ! Oh dear, here's somebody else who likes 
me. What shall I ever do ! " 



GOOD NEWS FOR THE STUDENT. 511 

The guileless, simple way in which she said it, and in 
which she put her hands before her eyes and wept for very 
happiness, was as touching as it was delightful. 

" I was not myself," he said. I don't know what it was 
it was some consequence of my disorder perhaps I was 
mad. But I am so no longer. Almost as I speak, I am re- 
stored. I heard the children crying out your name, and the 
shade passed from me at the very sound of it. Oh don't 
weep ! Dear Milly, if you could read my heart, and only 
know with what affection and what grateful homage it is 
glowing, you would not let me see you weep. It is such 
deep reproach." 

" No, no," said Milly, " it's not that. It's not indeed. It's 
joy. It's wonder that you should think it necessary to ask 
me to forgive so little, and yet it's pleasure that you do." 

" And will you come again ? and will you finish the little 
curtain ? " 

" No," said Mifly, drying her eyes, and shaking her head. 
" You won't care for my needlework now." 
"Is it forgiving me, to say that?" 
She beckoned him aside, and whispered in his ear. 
"There is news from your home, Mr. Edmund." 
" News ? How ? " 

"Either your not writing when you were very ill, or the 
change in your handwriting when you began to be better, 

created some suspicion of the truth ; however that is but 

you're sure you'll not be the worse for any news, if it's not 
bad news?" 
" Sure." 

"Then there's some one come!" said Milly. 
"My mother?" asked the student, glancing round in- 
voluntarily towards Redlaw, who had come down from the 
stairs. 

" Hush ! No," said Milly. 

" It can be no one else." 1 

* Indeed," said Milly, "are you sure?" 



512 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

"It is not " Before he could say more, sne put her 

hand close upon his mouth. 

"Yes it is!" said Milly. "The young lady (she is very 
like the miniature, Mr. Edmund, but she is prettier) was too 
unhappy to rest without satisfying her doubts, and came up, 
last night, with a little servant-maid. As you always dated 
your letters from the college, she came there ; and before 
I saw Mr. Redlaw this morning, I saw her. She likes me 
too ! " said Milly. " Oh dear, that's another ! " 

" This morning ! Where is she now ? " 

" Why, she is now,"" said Milly, advancing her lips to his 
ear, "in my little parlour in the Lodge, and waiting to see 
you." 

He pressed her hand, and was darting off, but she detained 
him. 

"Mr. Redlaw is much altered, and has told me this morn- 
ing that his memory is impaired. Be very considerate to 
him, Mr. Edmund; he needs that from us all." 

The young man assured her, by a look, that her caution 
was not ill-bestowed ; and as he passed the Chemist on his 
way out, bent respectfully and with an obvious interest before 
him. 

Redlaw returned the salutation courteously and even 
humbly, and looked after him as he passed on. He drooped 
his head upon his hand too, as trying to reawaken something 
he had lost. But it was gone. 

The abiding change that had come upon him since the 
influence of the music, and the Phantom's reappearance, was, 
that now he truly felt how much he had lost, and could com- 
passionate his own condition, and contrast it, clearly, with 
the natural state of those who were around him. In this, an 
interest in those who were around him was revived, and a 
meek, submissive sense of his calamity was bred, resembling 
that which sometimes obtains in age, when its mental powers 
are weakened, without insensibility or sullenness being added 
to the list of its infirmities. 



A FAR BETTER GUT. 513 

He was conscious that, as he redeemed, through Milly, 
more and more of the evil he had done, and as he was more 
and more with her, this change ripened itself within him. 
Therefore, and because of the attachment she inspired him 
with (but without other hope), he felt that he was quite 
dependent on her, and that she was his staff in his 
affliction. 

So, when she asked him whether they should go home now, 
to where the old man and her husband were, and he readily 
replied " yes " being anxious in that regard he put his arm 
through hers, and walked beside her; not as if he were the 
wise and learned man to whom the wonders of nature were 
an open book, and hers were the uninstructed mind, but as 
if their two positions were reversed, and he knew nothing, 
and she all. 

He saw the children throng about her, and caress her, as 
he and she went away together thus, out of the house ; he 
heard the ringing of their laughter, and their merry voices ; 
he saw their bright faces, clustering around him like flowers ; 
he witnessed the renewed contentment and affection of their 
parents ; he breathed the simple air of their poor homo, 
restored to its tranquillity; he thought of the unwholesome 
blight he had shed upon it, and might, but for her, have- 
been diffusing then ; and perhaps it is no wonder that he 
walked submissively beside her, and drew her gentle bosom 
nearer to his own. 

When they arrived at the Lodge, tfye old man was sitting 
in his chair in the chimney-corner, with his eyes fixed on the 
ground, and his son was leaning against the opposite side of 
the fireplace, looking at him. As she came in at the door, 
both started, and turned round towards her, and a radiant 
change came upon their faces. 

" Oh dear, dear, dear, they are pleased to see me like the 
rest!" cried Milly, clapping her hands in an ecstasy, and 
stopping short. " Here are two more ! n 

Pleased to see her! Pleasure was no word for it. She ran 



514, THE HAUNTED MAN. 

into her husband's arms, thrown wide open to receive her, 
and he would have been glad to have her there, with her 
head lying on his shoulder, through the short winter's day. 
But the old man couldn't spare her. He had arms for her 
too, and he locked her in them. 

"Why, where has my quiet Mouse been all this time?" 
said the old man. " She has been a long while away. I find 
that it's impossible for me to get on without Mouse. I 
where's my son William? I fancy I have been dreaming, 
William." 

" That's what I say myself, father," returned his son. " / 
have been in an ugly sort of dream, I think. How are you, 
father ? Are you pretty well ? " 

"Strong and brave, my boy," returned the old man. 

It was quite a sight to see Mr. William shaking hands with 
his father, and patting him on the back, and rubbing him 
gently down with his hand, as if he could not possibly do 
enough to show an interest in him. 

" What a wonderful man you are, father ! How are you, 
father ? Are you really pretty hearty, though ? " said William, 
shaking hands with him again, and patting him again, and 
rubbing him gently down again. 

"I never was fresher or stouter in my life, my boy." 

"What a wonderful man you are, father! But that's 
exactly where it is," said Mr. William, with enthusiasm. 
" When I think of all that my fathei - 's gone through, and all 
the chances and changes, and sorrows and troubles, that have 
happened to him in the course of his long life, and under 
which his head has grown grey, and years upon years have 
gathered on it, I feel as if we couldn't do enough to honour 
the old gentleman, and make his old age easy. How are 
you, father ? Are you really pretty well, though ? " 

Mr. William might never have left off repeating this 
inquiry, and shaking hands with him again, and patting him 
again, and rubbing him down again, if the old man had not 
espied the Chemist, whom until now he had not seen. 



A GOOD PRAYER. 515 

I ask your pardon, Mr. Redlaw," said Philip, "but didn't 
know you were here, sir, or should have made less free. It 
reminds me, Mr. Redlaw, seeing you here on a Christinas 
morning, of the time when you was a student yourself, and 
worked so hard that you was backwards and forwards in our 
Library even at Christmas-time. Ha ! ha ! Fm old enough 
to remember that ; and I remember it right well, I do, though 
I am eighty-seven. It was after you left here that my poor 
wife died. You remember my poor wife, Mr. Redlaw ?" 
The Chemist answered yes. 

Yes," said the old man. " She was a dear creetur. I 
recollect you come here one Christmas morning with a young 
lady I ask your pardon, Mr. Redlaw, but I think it*wa> a 
sister you was very much attached to?" 

The Chemist looked at him, and shook his head. " I had 
a sister," he said vacantly. He knew no moiv. 

" One Christmas morning," pursued the old man, " that you 
come here with her and it began to snow, and my wifc- 
invited the young lady to walk in, and sit by the fire that is 
always a-burning on Christmas Day in what used to be, before 
our ten poor gentlemen commuted, our great Dinner Hull. 
I was there; and I recollect, as I was stirring up the bla/t- 
for the young lady to warm her prettv feet by, .she read the 
scroll out loud, that is underneath that picter. * Lord, keep 
my memory green!' She and my poor wife fell a-talking 
about it ; and it's a strange thing to think of, now, that they 
both said (both being so unlike to die) that it was a good 
prayer, and that it was one they would put up very i-aruotlv, 
if they were called away young, with reference to those who 
were dearest to them. ' My brother," 1 says the- young lady 
' My husband,' says my poor wife. ' Lord, keep his memory 
of rne, green, and do not let me be forgotten ! ' " 

Tears more painful, and more bitter than he had ever shed 
in all his life, coursed down Redlaw's face. Philip, fully 
occupied in recalling his story, had not observed him until 
nqw, nor Milly's anxiety that he should not proceed. 



516 THE HAUNTED MAN 7 . 

" Philip ! " said Redlaw, laying his hand upon his arm, " I 
am a stricken man, on whom the hand of Providence has 
fallen heavily, although deservedly. You speak to me, my 
friend, of what I cannot follow ; my memory is gone." 11 

" Merciful Power ! " cried the old man. 

" I have lost mv memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble,"' 
said the Chemist, " and with that I have lost all man would 
remember ! " 

To see old Philip's pity for him, to see him wheel his own 
great chair for him to rest in, and look down upon him with 
a solemn sense of his bereavement, was to know, in some 
degree, how precious to old age such recollections are. 

The boy came running in, and ran to Milly. 

"Here's the man," he said, "in the other room. I don't 
want him. 

"What man does he mean? 1 ' 1 asked Mr. William. 

"Hush!" said Milly. 

Obedient to a sign from her, he and his old father softly 
withdrew. As they went out, unnoticed, Redlaw beckoned 
to the boy to come to him. 

"I like the woman best, 11 he answered, holding to her 
skirts. 

" You are right," said Redlaw, with a faint smile. " But 
you needn't fear to come to me. I am gentler than I was. 
Of all the world, to you, poor child ! " 

The boy still held back at first, but yielding little by little 
to her urging, he consented to approach, and even to sit down 
at his feet. As Redlaw laid his hand upon the shoulder of 
the child, looking on him with compassion and a fellow- 
feeling, he put out his other hand to Milly. She stooped 
down on that side of him, so that she could look into his 
face ; and after silence, said : 

" Mr. Redlaw, may I speak to you ? " 

"Yes," he answered, fixing his eyes upon her. " Your 
voice and music are the same to me." 

" May 1 ask you something ? "' 



THE STUDENTS FATHER. 517 

" What you will." 

" Do you remember what I said, when I knocked at your 
door last night? About one who was your friend once, and 
who stood on the verge of destruction ? " 

" Yes. I remember," he said, with some hesitation. 
" Do you understand it ? " 

He smoothed the boy's hair looking at her fixedly the 
while, and shook his head. 

"This person," said Milly, in her clear, soft voice, which 
her mild eyes, looking at him, made clearer and softer, 
" I found soon afterwards. I went back to the house, and, 
with Heaven's help, traced him. I was not too soon. A very 
little and I should have been too late." 

He took his hand from the boy, and laying it on the back 
of that hand of hers, whose timid and yet earnest touch 
addressed him no less appealingly than her voice and eyes, 
looked more intently on her. 

" He is the father of Mr. Edmund, the young gentleman 
we saw just now. His real name is Longford. You recollect 
the name ? " 

" I recollect the name." 

" And the man ? " 

"No, not the man. Did he ever wrong me?" 

"Yes." 

" Ah ! Then it's hopeless hopeless." 

He shook his head, and softly beat upon the hand he held, 
as though mutely asking her commiseration. 

"I did not go to Mr. Edmund last night," said Milly. - 
"You will listen to me just the same as if you did remember 

all?" 

"To every syllable you say." 

"Both, because I did not know, then, that this really was 
his father, and because I was fearful of the effect of such 
intelligence upon him, after his illness, if it should be. Since 
I have known who this person is, I have not gone either; b 
that is for another reason. He has long been separated iroin 



518 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

his wife and son has been a stranger to his homp almost 
from this son's infancy, I learn from him and has abandoned 
and deserted what he should have held most dear. In all 
that time he has been falling from the state of a gentleman, 
more and more, until " she rose up, hastily, and going out 
for a moment, returned, accompanied by the wreck that 
Hedlaw had beheld last night. 

" Do you know me ? " asked the Chemist. 

"I should be glad,"" returned the other, "and that is an 
unwonted word for me to use, if I could answer no." 

The Chemist looked at the man, standing in self-abasement 
and degradation before him, and would have looked longer, 
in an ineffectual struggle for enlightenment, but that Milly 
resumed her late position by his side, and attracted his 
attentive gaze to her own face. 

" See how low he is sunk, how lost he is ! " she whispered, 
stretching out her arm towards him, without looking from 
the Chemist's face. " If you could remember all that is con- 
nected with him, do you not think it would move your pity 
to reflect that one you ever loved (do not let us mind how 
long ago, or in what belief that he has forfeited), should come 
to this ? " 

" I hope it would," he answered. " I believe it would." 

His eyes wandered to the figure standing near the door, 
but came back speedily to her, on whom he gazed intently, 
as if he strove to learn some lesson from every tone of her 
voice, and every beam of her eyes. 

" I have no learning, and you have much," said Milly ; " I 
am not used to think, and you are always thinking. May 
1 tell you why it seems to me a good thing for us to 
remember wrong that has been done us?" 

"Yes." 

"That we may forgive it." 

" Pardon me, great Heaven ! " said Redlaw, lifting up his 
eyes, " for having thrown away thine own high attribute ! " 

"And if," said Milly, "if your memory should one day 



FORGIVENESS. 519 

be restored, as we will hope and pray it may be, would it 
not be a blessing to you to recall at once a wrong and its 
forgiveness ? " 

He looked at the figure by the door, and fastened his 
attentive eyes on her again ; a ray of clearer light appeared 
to him to shine into his mind, from her bright face. 

" He cannot go to his abandoned home. He does not 
seek to go there. He knows that he could only carry shame 
and trouble to those he had so cruelly neglected ; and that 
the best reparation he can make them now, is to avoid them. 
A very little money carefully bestowed, would remove him to 
some distant place, where he might live and do no wrong, 
and make such atonement as is left within his power for the 
wrong he has done. To the unfortunate lady who is his 
wife, and to his son, this would be the best and kindest boon 
that their best friend could give them one too that they 
need never know of; and to him, shattered in reputation, 
mind, and body, it might be salvation." 

He took her head between his hands, and kissed it, and 
said: "It shall be done. I trust to you to do it for me, 
now and secretly ; and to tell him that I would forgive him, 
if I were so happy as to know for what." 

As she rose, and turned her beaming face towards the 
fallen man, implying that her mediation had been sum-- t'ul, 
he advanced a step, and without raising his eyes, addiv^rd 
himself to Redlaw. 

"You are so generous," he said, " you ever were that 
you will try to banish your rising sense of retribution in the 
spectacle that is before you. I do not try to banish it from 
myself, Redlaw. If you can, believe me." 

The Chemist entreated Milly, by a gesture, to come w.-uvr 
to him; and, as he listened, looked in her face, as if to find 
in it the clue to what he heard. 

" I am too decayed a wretch to make professions ; I recollect 
my own career too well, to array any such before you. But 
from the day on which I made my first step downward, in 



520 THE HAUN 7 TED MAN. 

dealing falsely by you, I have gone down with a certain, 
steady, doomed progression. That, I say.' 1 

Redlaw, keeping her close at his side, turned his face 
towards the speaker, and there was sorrow in it. Some- 
thing like mournful recognition too. 

" I might have been another man, my life might have been 
another life, if I had avoided that first fatal step. I don't 
know that it would have been. I claim nothing for the 
possibility. Your sister is at rest, and better than she could 
have been with me, if I had continued even what you thought 
me : even what I once supposed myself to be/ 1 

Redlaw made a hasty motion with his hand, as if he would 
have put that subject on one side. 

" I speak, 11 the other went on, " like a man taken from the 
grave. I should have made my own grave, last night, had it 
not been for this blessed hand. 11 

" Oh dear, he likes me too ! " sobbed Milly, under her 
breath. "That's another! 11 

" I could not have put myself in your way, last night, even 
for bread. But to-day, my recollection of what has been is 
so strongly stirred, and is presented to me, I don't know 
how, so vividly, that I have dared to come at her suggestion, 
and to take your bounty, and to thank you for it, and to 
beg you, Redlaw, in your dying hour, to be as merciful to 
me in your thoughts, as you are in your deeds. 11 

He turned towards the door, and stopped a moment on 
his way forth. 

" I hope my son may interest you for his mother's sake. I 
hope he may deserve to do so. Unless my life should be 
preserved a long time, and I should know 'that I have not 
misused your aid, I shall never look upon him more." 

Going out, he raised his eyes to Redlaw for the first time. 
Redlaw, whose steadfast gaze was fixed upon him, dreamily 
held out his hand. He returned and touched it little more 
with both his own and bending down his head, went 
slowly out. 



A CHERISHED MEMORY. 531 

In the few moments that elapsed, while Milly silently took 
him to the gate, the Chemist dropped into his chair, and 
covered his face with his hands. Seeing him thus, when 
she came back, accompanied by her husband and his father 
(who were both greatly concerned for him), she avoided 
disturbing him, or permitting him to be disturbed; and 
kneeled down near the chair to put some warm clothing on 
the boy. 

"That's exactly where it is. That's what I always say, 
father!" exclaimed her admiring husband. "There's ;t 
motherly feeling in Mrs. William's breast that must and will 
have went ! " 

"Ay, ay,' 1 said the old man; "you're right. My son 
William's right ! " 

" It happens all for the best, Milly dear, no doubt," said 
Mr. William, tenderly, " that we have no children of our 
own ; and yet I sometimes wish you had one to love and 
cherish. Our little dead child that you built such hopes upon, 
and that never breathed the breath of life it has made you 
quiet-like, Milly." 

" I am very happy in the recollection of it, William dear," 
she answered. " I think of it every day." 

" I was afraid you thought of it a good deal." 
" Don't say afraid ; it is a comfort to me ; it speaks to me 
in so many ways. The innocent thing that never lived on 
earth is like an angel to me, William." 

"You are like an angel to father and me," said Mr. 
William, softly. " I know that." 

" When I think of all those hopes I built upon it, and 
the many times I sat and pictured to myself the little 
smiling face upon my bosom that never lay there, and the 
sweet eyes turned up to mine that never opened to the 
light," said Milly, " I can feel a greater tenderness, I think, 
for all the disappointed hopes in which there is no harm. 
When I see a beautiful child in its fond mother's arms, I 
love it all the better, thinking that my child might hau- 



522 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

been like that, and might have made my heart as proud and 
happy/' 

Redlaw raised his head, and looked towards her. 

" All through life, it seems by me," she continued, " to tell 
me something. For poor neglected children, my little child 
pleads as if it were alive, and had a voice I knew, with which 
to speak to me. When I hear of youth in suffering or shame, 
I think that my child might have come to that, perhaps, 
and that God took it from me in his mercy. Even in age 
and grey hair, such as father's is at present : saying that it 
too might have lived to be old, long and long after you and 
I were gone, and to have needed the respect and love of 
younger people." 

Her quiet voice was quieter than ever, as she took her 
husband's arm, and laid her head against it. 

"Children love me so, that sometimes I half fancy it's a 
silly fancy, William they have some way I don't know of, 
of feeling for my little child, and me, and understanding 
why their love is precious to me. If I have been quiet 
since, I have been more happy, William, in a hundred ways. 
Not least happy, dear, in this that even when my little 
child was born and dead but a few days and I was weak 
and sorrowful, and could not help grieving a little, the 
thought arose, that if I tried to lead a good life, I should 
meet in Heaven a bright creature, who would call me. 
Mother ! " 

Redlaw fell upon his knees, with a loud cry. 

"O Thou," he said, "who through the teaching of pure 
love, has graciously restored me to the memory which was 
the memory of Christ upon the cross, and of all the good 
who perished in His cause, receive my thanks, and bless 
her ! '" 

Then, he folded her to his heart ; and Milly, sobbing more 
than ever, cried, as she laughed, " He is come back to him- 
self ! He likes me very much indeed, too ? Oh dear, dear, 
dear me, here's another ! " 



THE CHRISTMAS PARTY. 533 

Then, the student entered, leading by the hand a lovely 
girl, who was afraid to come. And Redlaw so changed 
towards him, seeing in him and his youthful choice, the 
softened shadow of that chastening passage in his own life, 
to which, as to a shady tree, the dove so long imprisoned 
in his solitary ark might fly for rest and company, fell upon 
his neck, entreating them to be his children. 

Then, as Christmas is a time in which, of all times in the 
year, the memory of every remediable sorrow, wrong, and 
trouble in the world around us, should be active with us, 
not less than our own experiences, for all good, he laid his 
hand upon the boy, and, silently calling Him to \vitm->s 
who laid His hand on children in old time, rebuking, in 
the majesty of His prophetic knowledge, those who kept 
them from Him, vowed to protect him, teach him, and 
reclaim him. 

Then, he gave his right hand cheerily to Philip, and 
said that they would that day hold a Christmas dinner in 
what used to be, before the ten poor gentlemen commuted, 
their great Dinner Hall; and that they would bid to it 
as many of that Swidger family, who, his son had told him, 
were so numerous that they might join hands and make a 
ring round England, as could be brought together on so 
short a notice. 

And it was that day done. There were so many Swidgers 
there, grown up and children, that an attempt to state 
them in round numbeca might engender doubts, in the 
distrustful, of the veracity of this History. Therefore the 
attempt shall not be made. But there they were, by dozens 
and scores and there was good news and good hope there, 
ready for them, of George, who hat! been visited again 1>\ 
his father and brother, and by Milly, and again left in a 
quiet sleep. There, present at the dinner, too, were the 
Tetterbys, including young Adolphus, who arrived in his 
prismatic comforter, in good time for the beef. Johnny 
and the baby were too late, of course, and came in all 



524 THE HAUNTED MAN. 

on one side, the one exhausted, the other in a supposed 
state of double-tooth ; but that was customary, and not 
alarming. 

It was sad to see the child who had no name or lineage, 
watching the other children as they played, not knowing 
how to talk with them, or sport with them, and more strange 
to the ways of childhood than a rough dog. It was sad, 
though in a different way, to see what an instinctive know- 
ledge the youngest children there, had of his being different 
from all the rest, and how they made timid approaches to 
him with soft words, and touches, and with little presents, 
that he might not be unhappy. But he kept bv Millv, 
and began to love her that was another, as she said ! and, 
as they all liked her dearly, they were glad of that, and 
when they saw him peeping at them from behind her chair, 
they were pleased that he was so close to it. 

All this, the Chemist, sitting with the student and his bride 
that was to be, and Philip, and the rest, saw. 

Some people have said since, that he only thought what 
has been herein set down ; others, that he read it in the 
fire, one winter night about the twilight time; others, that 
the Ghost was but the representation of his own gloomy 
thoughts, and Milly the embodiment of his better wisdom. 
/ say nothing. 

Except this. That as they were assembled in the old 
Hall, by no other light than that of a great fire (having 
dined early), the shadows once more stole out of their 
hiding-places, and danced about the room, showing the 
children marvellous shapes and faces on the walls, and gradu- 
ally changing what was real and familiar there, to what was 
wild and magical. But that there was one thing in the Hall, 
to which the eyes of Redlaw, and of Milly and her husband, 
and of the old man, and of the student, and his bride that 
was to be, were often turned, which the shadows did not 
obscure or change. Deepened in its gravity by the firelight, 
and gazing from the darkness of the panelled wall like life. 



THE GREAT DINNER HALL. 



525 



the sedate face in the portrait, with the beard and ruff', 
looked down at them from under its verdant wreath of holly, 
as they looked up at it ; and, clear and plain below, as if 
a voice had uttered them, were the words 




PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AN 



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